Publishing an embarrassing story can be both liberating and satisfying.
I have an admission to make: sometimes when I read your blog posts, I get a little jealous. Your amazing recipes, workout plans, gorgeous families, and home renovations make my average life pale in comparison. When I feel this way, I sometimes wish I had a modicum of perfection, or some wild successes to share. I know I’m not alone. Blogs and other social media can give us “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence” syndrome. The funny thing is, as much as I enjoy following sites that make me swoon with admiration, I absolutely love reading posts that depict life’s imperfections even more.
I couldn’t appear perfect with a team of well-oiled public relations consultants working around the clock to hone my image.
The rate at which a person can mature is directly proportional to the embarrassment he can tolerate.
So what’s a girl to do when she’s got no hope of being anyone’s green-grass-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence? I write about the embarrassing moments… the moments that make me want to stick my head in the sand. Why do I publish stories that logic tells me to hide? It takes away the power of those awful experiences when I admit them to the world. It’s cathartic. And, if I’m lucky, telling these stories will make people laugh, which I love to do.
Nothing goes away on the internet. Once we share something in cyberspace, it can hang around forever. That’s why many of us don’t want to publicize our weaknesses and missteps. On one hand, we want to be open and honest with the world… on the other, we have to be protective of ourselves and consider our futures. This leads a lot of bloggers to publicize their wins, but keep their losses private.
What’s the worst thing that could happen if we all wrote about our most embarrassing moments?
What if a potential employer were to read about the time a Buddhist monk witnessed my husband and me arguing atop a Zen meditation bridge in an otherwise-silent botanical garden? (I wish the argument had been about something more meaningful than whether or not we’d eat Indian food for dinner that evening.)
The embarrassment of a situation can, once you are over it, be the funniest time in your life.
What if my in-laws learned about the time I walked around for over an hour with my entire skirt tucked into the front of my underwear while I was window shopping in Beverly Hills? (Any one of a hundred people could have signaled me that I was inadvertently flashing the world.)
What if a new friend found out that I accidentally hit “reply all” on an email in which I called one of the people on the recipient list a “human sleeping pill” and “so boring, she’d make an oil painting yawn?” (This still makes me feel awful a decade later.)
There. I just told you three events that were horrible when I experienced them, and I’m still here! The world hasn’t swallowed me whole.
There’s something liberating about not pretending. Dare to embarrass yourself. Risk.
Why do I love sharing embarrassing stories more than touting my successes? Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment (or a gluten for punishment, as I typed before autocorrect saved me). Maybe in a world filled with pictures of perfectly-iced cakes, well-dressed children, and six-pack abs, I feel stressed out and disingenuous if I try to compete. But when I tell stories of the sales tags I’ve worn on clothes to job interviews, or how I tried to climb onto a horse for the first time — and immediately fell off the other side of the same horse seconds later — I feel as if I’m being to true to who I am, and I’m trusting my readers to accept me as I am.
Here’s another bonus: if we write about our blunders, we’ll never run out of material!
It’s scary to do this sometimes. Anytime we post to our blogs, we open ourselves up to public critique. We are putting ourselves into the hands of friends and strangers and telling them, “I trust you with this piece of me.” Blogging is already a brave activity, without the addition of opening ourselves up to ridicule. Being candid and genuine is a far more impressive feat than putting forth the perfected version of ourselves.
If blogging about awkwardness makes you squeamish, check out this amazing post. Do you judge these folks, or do you laugh in commiseration?
Next time you’re trying to decide whether or not to post the picture of your kids screaming while you tried to take the photo for your holiday card, or the Spongebob cake you made that looks more like a giant piece of melted swiss cheese, know this: I wanna see those real moments. Many of us would. Not because we want to laugh at you, but because we want to laugh with you. Because we humans relate to one another through our imperfections.
Are there any embarrassing stories you’ve censored yourself from sharing, but you’ve always wanted to tell? If so, what’s holding you back?