How Not to Be Embarrassed

19 03 2011

This post could also be titled “Surviving Life as Meghan”.

Let’s face it, I was set up. God made me a six-foot tall blonde with not the best balance and a good amount of bouncy energy. It’s a given that I am going to do things like walk into open doors, fall while going up the stairs and trip over nothing. Never mind my apparent penchant for passing out in public. Luckily God is very kind because He also gave me a sense of humour. From twenty-three years experience I am going to give you all some tips about preventing and dealing with unpreventable embarrassing situations. 

First, prevention. There are a few things you can do in daily life to prevent embarrassing things happening. What follows is a list of some basics and a few that you might not have thought about.
1) Check your teeth after eating spinach or anything with basil
2) After applying lipstick and before leaving for the day check your teeth in the mirror. Check every time you reapply thereafter.
3) Always check the hem of your garment before leaving a restroom. Don’t want it tucked up and unnoticed!
4) When you are getting dressed after applying deodorant, roll the hem of your t-shirt, tank top or dress up so only the wrong side of the fabric will touch your skin. This will prevent deodorant stripes (which are very hard to pass off as intentional).
5) Wear deodorant. Please.
6) Always carry mints or gum. If you are a sweet-breathed person naturally they might save you from someone well acquainted with garlic/onions/fish that you happen to be sitting near. It is always acceptable to offer someone a mint if it seems like you were taking one yourself and felt like sharing.
7) When approaching a door do not assume that it will open for you. If it is CLEARLY not automatic scan for a “push” or “pull” indication before you get close enough to open it. (This one is from vast experience).  When in doubt, public doors open outward and private doors open inward.
8) Incorporate tongue twisters as an exercise into your daily life. They will help you enunciate and keep slips-of-the-tongue at bay.
9)  Try to be at least dimly aware of current slang and figures of speech. Nothing worse than making a (seemingly) innocuous statement and realizing that you’ve just propositioned a coworker accidentally. Propositioning coworkers intentionally is also frowned upon but that’s your business.
10) Don’t wear high heels if you can’t walk gracefully in them.

Now, if your embarrassing situations are on an epic scale, these preventative measures will obviously not be enough for you. I will give you an example.

Last October I was coming home from a trip to Kansas City. Let me state right off and for the record that I am not an anxious flyer. I like planes and have enough engineers in my family that I am confident the darned thing will fly without me hyperventilating over it. I digress. We take off out of Kansas City and by the time we make it to cruising altitude I am feeling SICK. Like a genius I jump up and head back to the bathroom to (hopefully) throw up.

I made it about halfway to the back of the plane when I suddenly got tunnel vision. Before I knew it the whole world went black and I collapsed flat out in the aisle. When I came to there is someone attached to each of my wrists checking my pulse and a stewardess asking if I’m epileptic. Then they asked if they should land the plane. I had two thoughts: Oh please God don’t let them land- we’re in the midwest! and laying down in the aisle in the most comfortable I’ve ever been on a plane.

My point being, this is a potentially humiliating situation. You are laying down on an airplane floor (disgusting!) and there are a dozen strangers who not only watched you fall but are now staring anxiously at you as though you were a cow that’d just been tipped. Unflattering but true. What is a person to do to cope with such embarrassment?

Laugh.  Crack jokes. Thank the lady who handed you a baggy of grapes and imagine that you are a Stooge and fell on purpose. And then forget about it. You didn’t do anything to make yourself pass out and it wasn’t really preventable so just move on with your life.

If I became embarrassed every time I did something stupid I would never be able to face the world. I’ve walked into doors, I’ve fallen in public, I’ve passed out in both a hospital and an airplane and you know what? I treat it all as a pretty good joke. Imagine a world in which every stupid thing you do is the beginnings of a great story. That is my overarching advice- be ok with anything that happens in the embarrassment category if it gives you an awesome story on yourself.

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2 responses

19 03 2011
Mother Smith

this is why you are my hero!!

20 03 2011
MeghanM

I think the routine embarrassments are deeply linked to the “h” that we share. Delighted to know that we have clutziness in common…it begins to seem as though the only thing that separates us is your height, lightness of hair, and my two bothers (er, brothers) instead of a sister.

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