ON EMBARRASSMENT

Ever lie in bed at night, having put your smartphone (and bad screen habits) aside, all set to get a good night’s sleep … and then BAM! Out of nowhere, you are walloped in the face by a sudden excruciating memory of something silly you did that happened eight years ago?

Join the club!

I often have painful flashbacks to most likely insignificant, minor mishaps that everyone else will probably long since have forgotten about. Or maybe not. Some of my ‘faux pas’ have been more noteworthy than others because they were related to my illness and all the senseless chaos it entails, but for the most part, I’m pretty sure I’m just as flawed and prone to blunders as everyone else.

It’s difficult to know, though, because people don’t talk about it. I mean, who would? Who would voluntarily disclose their most embarrassing moments to strangers unless they were skilled at communicating them in a humorous way? If you would, you’re bloody cool, but 99 % of people wouldn’t. And that’s a statistic I just made up, but it certainly feels that way sometimes …

Our social media feeds are flooded with only the most aesthetic Instagram posts avec witty captions, success stories on Facebook (new job, got into my dream education, engaged to my beau …), people hanging out with friends and having a good time, documenting it all on Snapchat – everyone’s highlight reels in general. And it’s only natural to compare oneself. I have, for too long, put pressure on myself to be more outgoing and ‘out there’ because I wasn’t ‘measuring up’ to my peers. But with time I’ve decided that it’s not worth the stress. I’m happy with who I am, so why try to live up to unrealistic standards? It’s more complicated, but I have to find ways to live out who I am, not constantly try to figure out how best to fit in. More complicated at first glance, but I’m sure it’ll get easier the more I work on it.

My point is, it’s more challenging to ‘own up’ to your flaws than it is to cover them up with a perfectly crafted Instagram post. (And I’m not just talking about filters and retouching :-P)

I say it often, but again: BULLYING really plays a massive part in magnifying one’s ‘mistakes’. I still get flashbacks to the time I went to efterskole (a school you live at for one year between finishing folkeskolen and before starting high school) and was bullied horrendously. I haven’t wanted to talk about it for years. I blamed myself for pretty much everything that happened and felt like the girls who tormented me – until I left the school early – had a certain power, because they were more ‘popular’ than me. They could spread rumours like wildfire, smear me behind my back, ruin my social life. They already did – and others, too. I wasn’t the only one who left well before the year was over.

One time I was lying in bed during the day because I’d been feeling ill, and suddenly my door burst open and this group of girls came in, opened my wardrobe, rummaged in my drawers, took out my notebooks and began to take photos of what I’d written in them. They took photos of me before I could do anything about it, and then they left again. I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what to do. How could I ask them, “Please would you delete the photos?” They could just lie and keep them. They were a gang, I was an individual. I had no power. What were they going to use the photos for? I never found out … you can imagine how much that screwed with my mind.

This was after my previous roommate had made my life a living nightmare. There was an incident where she screamed and shouted and threatened to beat me up if I didn’t unlock the door RIGHT NOW. This was about a week or two after starting at the school, and she’d invited practically all the guys to come in through our window and leave muddy footprints all over my bed. Then, in the evenings, when I was tired and wanted to sleep, she would make it very difficult to do so. So I ended up locking the door on her. That’s when all hell broke loose.

Needless to say, we weren’t roommates after that.

So do you see why I blamed myself? “I should never have chosen to go to efterskole. I should have known. I shouldn’t have brought notebooks. I shouldn’t have tried to befriend those girls. I shouldn’t have been so stupid.”

I was EMBARRASSED. About so much. Stuff I thought I could have avoided. And still think I could have. When, in fact, one could ask: Why am I the one feeling ashamed, when I did nothing wrong?

And that’s exactly what this is about. ‘Wrong’. When is something considered wrong? Where does the line between ‘acceptable’ and ‘offensive’ go? The line between ‘unique, must be admired’ and ‘weird, must be shunned’? And shouldn’t we all just take a massive chill pill and forgive each other for our shortcomings rather than all this malice?

So, for the sake of everyone’s mental health and comfort, I have a humble request: Please share your flaws, bloopers and mistakes. Not just in the ‘this is what my tummy looks like when it’s not sucked in’ kind of way, but maybe the things that sting a little to admit.

Starting now. What’s your biggest mistake?

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