Joy took this photo of me during a recent photo safari just to be funny. It's not a particularly flattering photograph but it's an accurate one and it did make me giggle. I really get into my photography :) I think I was trying to capture a teensy little toadstool that had bravely popped up right there on the path. Or perhaps it was something else. But whatever it was I was trying to take a picture of, it was obviously something small that I had to get very close to. So I know that I look fairly ridiculous in this picture and yet, I clearly have no problem posting it on my Blog. Obviously, I am not worried about looking foolish.
There I am sprawled across the hiking path in my ages old very faded denim shorts that are a funny length, an old stretched out cheapo tee shirt in an especially non-flattering colour of pink, butt foremost, ratty sneakers and if you looked closely you'd see how stained the socks are (which is why they have been designated "hiking socks"). I spy a wee bit of a roll around my waist and my chubby little arms hanging right out there. And yet, I'm not even a little bit flustered by it all.
There was a time when I would have been stricken with humiliation by a picture like this. Hard to believe I know, but there was a huge portion of my life when being publically embarrassed was a major fear of mine. Just the thought of it would strike panic into my heart.
I recall back, long ago, probably in my early teen years, travelling with my family. My dad always just wanted to "get there", wherever it was we were going that particular time. It was a challenge that he had set for himself, how many miles we could cover in a day. Therefore there was very little stopping. Mostly just for gas. If you needed something to eat or drink or a use a bathroom you needed to time it along with the needs of the cars gas tank. Therefore, the instant the car came to a dusty rolling halt at any gas station, my sister and I bolted from the car and made a bee-line for the ladies room. Generally it was around the side of the building, sometimes you had to go inside and request the key. And there we were, young ladies, just starting to be noticed by equally young boys, a lot of whom worked at places like gas stations.
Keep in mind here that nothing was ever going to happen. And we knew that. In fact, we were probably relieved about that to be honest. It was just nice, at that point in our lives, to be admired from afar. Now imagine our embarrassment as our Mother brandished a can of Lysol out the car window and yelled after us, "Girls, don't forget the Lysol!" Mercy. Hard to look cool carrying the large economy size can of Lysol into the ladies room of a gas station.
Even farther ago than that, elementary school. We called it primary school back then. I was such a tragically shy child that just being called on in class could make me burst into tears. I just wanted to sit there quietly and be invisible please. Of course that's not the teachers' job. But it was so hard for me when I was noticed. My heart would begin to pound as soon as the teacher stood up and asked a question, before she even called out a name my cheeks would be flaming red and my eyes already blinking back the beginnings of tears. And then when it was someone's else's name, the relief! Oh my the sigh of relief.
Being called to the blackboard to work was even worse. It was usually a math problem or diagramming a sentence, both of which I could easily have done. But there was something about standing there in front of the teacher, the other students and that blackboard that immediately gave me an attack of stupid. My brain would just go blank. I can still remember the smell of that chalkboard, standing there, the silky feeling of that small piece of white chalk in my right hand, starring at that board and then the floor, little tears running down my cheeks until the teacher finally sighed and told me to sit back down. Embarassed by being called to the front of the class and therefore being noticed, my inexplicable inability to do the problem - I actually knew the answer 9 times out of 10 - and then crying in public. It was just beyond devastating for me. It was, for me, a thing of nightmares.
When I think about it, the sheer number of times I've crashed into walls, fallen down stairs, fumbled and dropped very breakable things in front of large groups of people, you'd think I'd either have gotten over being embarrassed or gotten less clumsy. But I somehow it didn't get easier for a very long time. Falling off a stage, in performance mind you, accidentally walking full stride into a cast iron post at Knotts Berry Farm and knocking myself out cold or the time I fell off a friends deck (in the dark) into a line of bicycles and broke a number of toes which I just shoved together and taped for a day or so rather than make a big deal of it, the list goes on and on (and on!). I just wanted the earth to open up and swallow. Too many occasions to count. My life to that point was Humiliating with a capitol H.
But eventually, somehow, the embarrassment started to fade. I'm not certain when it happened exactly. Was it just growing up? Or maybe it happened when my kids were small. Children are, shall we say, candid. They have no brain filters. And after a few times of them loudly accusing total strangers of farting in public, well after awhile you just keep going and think nothing of it. Or maybe I finally just got over myself.
As time has gone on, I no longer bat an eye if I make a mistake, bump into a wall or another customer - although I do apologize of course. Showing up dressed horribly wrong for an event no longer brings tears and a desire to flee at my first opportunity. I just shrug and keep going, perhaps make a joke of it. If I don't know the answer to a question, these days I am curious rather than embarrassed. I have absolutely no problem saying, "Actually, I don't know. Let's look it up and find out".
I knew I had finally made it over the bump when I accidentally dropped a tray of food in a public place. It crashed and clattered endlessly, broken bits of glass and crockery, smooshed food everywhere and a napkin fluttered delicately to the floor. It felt as if that moment was going to go on forever. Once the noise stopped, I glanced around the room briefly and saw every eye on me. It was spectacularly silent. I'm not certain why I did what I did next, but without another thought, and with great theatrical flair I bowed. The room erupted into applause. I smiled and then cleaned up the mess as best I could and, the most important part, life went on.
Clearly I have grown, emotionally, thank goodness. And if someone takes a photo of my prodigious arse, I laugh and tell them that they obviously captured my best side. It could have been worse. The day Joy took that picture, I had the nerve, at my appalling age, to have worn my hair in pigtails under that ball cap with my polka dotted dollar store sunglasses worn OVER my regular glasses. Yeah. The photo could definitely have been worse.
By the way, here is a peeve of mine. When something unfortunate happens people often say, "it could always be worse". I'm not saying they are wrong. They are actually right. It could be worse. But hey, it could also be better. Why does nobody ever say that??
Ok I'll say it, no matter what embarrassing thing happens to you, you will survive it. And if you learn to laugh at yourself, it will get better, faster.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.