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Boy, Is My Face Red

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.
-Douglas Engelbart

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.
-Miranda Hart

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.
-Drew Barrymore

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?

blushemojis1

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    1. @Kevin: I can clearly remember my Music teacher at school saying “you stupid boy!” When I attempted to play a song on keyboard I wasn’t ready for. It pretty much put me off learning music for the rest of my education. On the flip side, I loved French thanks to a fantastic teacher..

      I’m older now and I firmly believe it’s never too late to learn new things. I’m attempting drawing again this month after not picking up a pencil for years. I’m no artist but I’m enjoying it and thats all that matters. Piano too is the one instrument I’ve promised myself I’ll attempt as soon as I have the space/money for one.

      @Robyn: Great post! I’ve had my blog for over ten years and it’s full of old posts that would these days make me cringe. Before I attempted NaBloPoMo I had a bit of a self-conscious clear out to try to focus the blog and tone down the angsty teenage guff. My most embarrassing post is probably this one and that’s even with a bit of tweaking: http://straydogstrut.co.uk/2005/10/20/superheroes/

      I leave it up because I’ve moved on and I’m much more comfortable with who I am now. Yes, my latest writing is more ‘everything is great’ but I still have the same grass-is-greener feeling when I look at other blogs. I’m not afraid to write about the bad but I try to avoid the rants of my youth (I really should see what else needs cleaning up back there!) and write with more purpose now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Story of my life. I mostly write fictional stories, but when I do share stories about my life, it’s usually embarrassing stuff. I’m far from perfect and I think flawed people are more interesting anyway.

    Liked by 9 people

  2. Guilty of charge. I mostly write personal essays that are hard to digest someone said. I’m guilty of letting the skeletons out the closet and letting them dance naked occasionally. I’m guilty of trying to exorcise some ghosts. I’m guilty of serving my writings to the readers raw and pure and without embellishments. Yes, I’m guilty.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I’m so pleased you’re encouraging this! My blog is a whole reel of my embarrassing moments/embarrassing life in general – it’s all genuine entries from my 1990s teenage diaries.

    After reading and sharing those I’ve now got a bit desensitised to cringeworthyness which is a good thing because I’m sadly not one of those composed, sophisticated, articulate people that never fall over or spend a morning with porridge in their hair. Everyone should try it! (The embarrassing blogging, not the porridge thing.) I love reading about other people that are far from perfect. It makes a much better and more entertaining read when things don’t quite go to plan… More of that please!

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      1. Yes but only since I started doing this and people told me about it. I love it. It proves that pretty much everyone was embarrassing as a teen – it’s just that most adults have been sensible enough to destroy any evidence!

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  4. I had this response to other’s posts too, until I read something that encapsulated this for me. “We see other’s showreels and our own blooper reels”. When you actually sift down your own accomplishments into a few brief lines like everyone else does, it can actually sound quite good, but doesn’t actually sound like you. The revelation is … this is the same for everyone else too.

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  5. This is a very good point. I guess it also links to our reliance on social media now we find vines and videos a key source of amusement. Sharing embarrassing stories is a sing of confidence and friendship. I admire your positive attitude!

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  6. I’ve never shared any of my embarrassing moments. I never thought about that!
    There is something about reading people’s embarrassing times that makes them more human. It’s better when the author laughs with us in the post!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read a really lovely blog of a woman with a child with special needs (mainly because the name of the blog had the word cats in it) – and there are embarrassing moments on it – not only – but it’s so good to share in the comments that that happens to me, too, even though I do not have the excuse of a child (let alone one with special needs). In my blog I haven’t really come round to sharing embarrassing things about myself – apart from one time, when I wrote about Male Escorts for Ladies. Nope, I did NOT try one. If you ask that is my story …

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  8. Great read.. Very honest.. Write and bleed ’till you become numb.. Won’t please everyone but! Positive feedback Heals and gets the circulation flowing again..

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  9. Delightful. Like many others, I enjoy writing my thoughts in blogs or more as a letter to my ‘Dear Reader’. I sometimes just write without reviewing allowing the odd mistake to creep in. I found this an interesting and enjoyable read. It did make me smile.

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  10. Gosh, have I ever got a file of blog disasters just waiting to be exposed, but what I really wanted to say here is how much I admired your blog, with all the bold and different font sentences, the quotes, etc. A really nice looking and easy to read one. You are obviously a very modest professional.

    Mine, I’m afraid, are just straight off the cuff, so one day I should try to find out how to have them at least look better.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awwww. Thanks. I’m lucky that the Daily Post editors have created such a lovely template! A well chose theme and using formatting like Blockquotes makes all the difference!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Excellent piece. I totally agree. Social media has sort of become a means of “personal propaganda” i.e. People see what you want them to see, but invariably posts about imperfections, or funny life moments get far more positive feedback because they’re as you said. They’re REAL.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, I don’t think there’s anything wrong in posting blogs or stuff about your life on social media, so long as it’s not boring pictures of meals etc. The key is to post what you feel is close to reality. What’s real is usually funnier because people can empathise with those embarrassing moments, such as sharting in the middle of a meeting (a shart is when you fart but shit yourself instead). You could question the purpose of writing blogs, but then, I’m sure before the internet age, writers questioned their own opinion pieces in journals and newspapers. If you enjoy it, keep doing it. Simple!

        Liked by 2 people

  12. I really love your writing and tone – and you also make good points – but whew – I think this topic can be have many angles – and in my very humble opinion I think writing about the embarrassing moments has to be done with care- but u r right that it can make for a very good read – bonding – and so authentic. However – it is not my favorite stuff to read all the time – if an example is woven into a post or if the post has a point I like it – but the fine line for me is I do not like reading someone’s journal – and while we all have hard seasons – I do not necessarily want to read someone’s processing out loud – I know that is not what you are saying with your point – but whew – it can be heavy and downright depressing to keep reading posts about certain “real” things.

    Again – it can be done well and it can be a powerful source for sharing in a way that unites instead of just “grass is real green” over here – but to me – I like when the blogger stays true to who they are and when they keep their posts their own.
    What brings me back to this community is the originality I find at the blogs I follow – and I don’t find a lot of grass is green bragging – but instead find a certain vibe and unique energy with bloggers as they evolve – cos as I am sure u know – many of us evolve as a blogger –

    Anyhow – I also live your quotes and I am glad to have recently stumbled on your blog – your grass seems well nurtured – ha!

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  13. This is a great post! I think that you’re right, I see a lot of blogs and I’m just like “how do they do it?” but it’s also nice to come back to my colourful mishap life after reading about people’s monochrome decor! It looks amazing but it’s just not real! I do share the good, the bad and the ugly on my blog and j wouldn’t have it any other way. When I wrote about my post natal quote a few women emailed me, thanking me for being honest about it.
    I don’t disagree with people who choose to keep their fails hidden but it also makes me sad that the bloggers who genuinely write about their lives feel that they don’t have something special because they have flaws! I’d rather read a blog post about someone getting something totally wrong but continuing to try than read about the time they won! Id rather celebrate their success with them, than congratulate them half-heartedly! Thanks for this post!

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    1. Thank you for these great comments. I do not begrudge the aspirational lifestyle bloggers either…but sometimes I feel like an unreasonable bar is set for me to live up to their beautiful lives. Lack of self-confidence on my part, probably!

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      1. I think that is probably the same for me too. It’s the age old “I can’t compete with that.”
        I have seen so many bloggers and they do have some great content and they’re blogs are beautiful and I think it’s great! I would never be able to do that though, so it makes it feel less real for me.

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    2. But do you believe what those people say? Nobody’s life is perfect – and when I read a blog about somebody who seems to have a perfect life – well, I just deduct 50%, add in some 20% of trouble and am left with 30% that I don’t know which category it falls into. If they write in an interesting way I continue reading the blog, if they don’t I just leave the 30% undecided.
      another totally different point: the fails we’re talking about here seem to me, as the title says, embarassing moments: we’re not talking about character flaws (see comment one post above). I would agree that I wouldn’t read somebody who uses their blog as their journal. And I have many embarassing moments – only I just am not able to put them into words that make it interesting to read: but then I’m only a beginning blogger so maybe in a few years time they’ll crop up…….

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      1. I’ll be honest, a lot of the time I don’t hang about on their blogs to find out very much because it’s not believable to me. I don’t think everyone is perfect and I would rather read a blog that’s genuine, with genuine feelings, genuine events and sometimes, I even enjoy reading the mundane events because it makes the content even more believable and enjoyable and, most importantly, relatable. If I see someone sharing an embarrassing moment, and I’ve been there, or could imagine myself being there, then I more likely to connect with that person. If I find a blog and it’s full of ‘perfection’ I click the back button and leave their site.
        Maybe, if I didn’t jump to conclusions, I might actually enjoy their content but, with that said, if I don’t connect immediately, I know I won’t, so I don’t bother.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. There are times when I can adhere to the prompt, but other times something triggers an emotional response. Days where writing about vacation spots becomes something darker, cancer or my daughters death being my weak points. I’m not embarrassed by it being hard at times, but maybe someone who reads it might not be ready for the look inside.

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  15. It is a paradoxical truth: We are at our most human when we make mistakes in order become better versions of who we are.

    Please check out my blog, I’m a newcomer :).

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  16. I sort of find I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum, where I constantly WANT to post embarassing personal stories and hold myself back. I’ve been running my own clothing brand for the past 8 years and am always trying to think of the brand first…and I think I’m about to pop from overcuration! I mean I do post some personal things her and there but…I sort of want to delve deeper…which is one of the reasons I actually started my wordpress blog. Thanks for this encouragement to stop holding myself back…a bit!

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  17. Some of the best blog posts I’ve read have been honest, funny, embarrassing moments that we can all relate to. As for my own, well I’m still holding back a bit. Call it being private, protecting myself if you like, maybe one day I’ll be more upfront about my hangups and insecurities. I think I’m slowly opening up. Thanks for the great honest post, I enjoyed it.

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