Why not skip being embarrassed and laugh about it right now?!

Why not skip being embarrassed and laugh about it right now?!
Sidewalk Smiley at the Cable Car turnaround on Market St.

I’ve written frequently about sticking your neck out and taking a chance. You know, nothing ventured, nothing gained. Really what’s the worst that can happen? Even when it all goes south, it’s rarely as bad as the way you imagined it might be. Last night I was thinking about what often holds us back. I think it’s the fear of not coming off as cool, polished, in charge and in the know. Sounds like ego getting in the way of experimentation.

This made me think about being embarrassed. What’s the big deal? Aren’t those situations the ones we all laugh about later. Don’t we tell and re-tell the stories of our goof ups, our humiliations, our spinach on the teeth as we trip down the stairs with our shirt mis-buttoned while giving the wrong answer to a ridiculously easy question in front of the person we were hoping to impress moments? *

Here’s the funny thing: we don’t merely re-tell, we re-tell and, in so doing, throw down the gauntlet for those listening, to one-up us with their own stories of being embarrassed. And then, a grand time is had by all. Everybody laughs and the one with the most humiliating tale is the “winner.”

So next time you fumble and feel embarrassed, remember how you’ll laugh about it later. Maybe, if you’re lucky, this screw up is so colossal that you’ll be the dopey-est the next time you and friends swap stories.

Why not skip right past embarrassment and laugh about it right then? Why wait? Why suffer feelings of humiliation? The truth is nobody is paying that much attention. Remember you are not the star in the movie that is their life. At most you have a feature role, but more likely you are a mere extra. You’re worrying about what they’re thing about you, but all the while they’re actually busy wondering and worrying about what you’re thinking about them.

Remember, you are just as lovable with your skirt tucked into your underwear, as you are when it is not.

Smile. Be happy and check your backside before you exit the stall.


* Feel free to insert your own humiliating memory here – mine was just yesterday when a gust of wind exposed my bottom half to the hundreds of people waiting for the Cable Car at the corner of Market and Powell. Funniest thing was that in that moment, my first thought was to wish I’d worn cuter panties. Silly ego, always worrying about how we are perceived. I’m sure every tourist waiting at the corner just felt sympathy for me. OK maybe a few were thinking, “Darn. Why didn’t I have my camera ready.”

As I re-read that I realize I should have typed: I’m sure every tourist waiting at the corner didn’t even notice.


Ruth Kaiser

Ruth Kaiser is a preschool teacher, TED Talk speaker, children's author, AND the creator of the popular online art project SpontaneousSmiley.com where thousands of people find, photograph and share Smiley Faces they find in everyday objects.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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