Have you ever made a fool of yourself? Well, you are NOT ALONE! But when it happens, we invariably feel like we are the only one and feel so alone in our embarrassment. Lets change this! Lets have a conversation about intentionally lowering the bar for each other. This age of showing our best, sparkliest selves or not showing ourselves at all has left many of us feeling like we are missing out, doing life wrong, or have no hope of measuring up. I know that most of those results are absolutely unintentional. And I don’t blame anyone for wanting to put their best face forward or sharing with others when, once in a blue moon, everything falls in to place and life actually looks like a photo shoot.
But what if we all promised ourselves and each other that we would try to show the flip side of the coin once in a while as a gift to each other? We’d all have a lot more laughs at the least, and I bet it would result in something much more significant. Like a sense of connectedness, community, humility, and normalcy. Think back to the last time you really felt like you were connecting more deeply with someone you’d previously only known superficially. Chances are this didn’t grow from seeing that person looking perfect. It is much more likely to have sprung from seeing that person be vulnerable, brave, or honest.
I went to a Christmas party a few years ago thrown by a friend of mine and attended by her girlfriends from all parts of her life, many of whom didn’t know each other. We were doing an ornament exchange and had drawn numbers. She asked that when our number came up, before choosing or stealing our gift, we first introduce ourselves and tell a story about our most embarrassing moment. I have never laughed harder at a party. And I left there feeling connected to those women in a much more meaningful way than when I’d arrived. I didn’t even have direct contact with most of them at the party. But we had shown each other our under bellies.
Years later, I still laugh when I think of some of those stories! What a gift. But the far more significant gift from that party was that I left with such a sense of connection and relationship with many women I had only known superficially or not at all before that night. And when something embarrassing happens, which is inevitable, I feel less alone for having been let in on those stories.
Of course, when on the spot, I couldn’t think of anything very embarrassing to tell. I told about the time my mom and I smuggled my cat into a hotel that didn’t accept pets (this was naivete and poor planning on my part, not malevolence) only to discover that the elevator had an attendant. My shoulder bag that contained my very confused kitty began to lurch, and I new it was only a matter of time before she began to yowl. I gave my mom a panicked look and she brilliantly yelped to the attendant, “I need to get off of this elevator RIGHT NOW! I am having female problems!” A confusion ensued that masked my cat’s struggling, and we were able to get off of the elevator without detection. Oh. My. Gosh. This was thirty years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday. Who knew my mom was such a good actress or quick thinker?! So, while funny, I don’t think my story was much of a gift to anyone. But the story of a gal’s toddler pulling her soccer shorts straight to the floor in the Home Depot line resulting in her commando self having to bend all the way to the floor to replace her shorts and then turning around to see a Home Depot employee standing right behind her makes my frequent foibles much more palatable.
So, the next time something embarrassing or unfortunate happens to you, consider what it might mean to someone who only sees the photoshopped version of you to hear what happened, to be able to laugh with you and to say, “hey, me too.” After my piece about getting stuck in the dress was published, I heard so many stories from others of the same thing happening to them. Why haven’t I heard these stories?! I am not alone! And now, neither are they! You just never know when you might be gifting someone with laughter when they most needed it, forging an important new connection, or even throwing out a lifeline you’ll never know was needed or grasped.
If you’d like to hear more stories that will make you feel less alone in your imperfection, you’ll love my new podcast, Fancy Free! Check it out!
And if you have a story you think others would enjoy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to chat with you about it!