Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Writefully Shamed: Nice trip, see you next fall

By now you know I'm exploring vulnerability as a way to improve my storytelling and, in general, my authenticity in daily life. If you're new to this series check out the history here.

So let’s begin this share session with a question:

Have you ever known someone who is cookie-freaking-cutter-perfect? She or he is successful in business, respected among their peers and in their community. This perfectly annoying person always says the right thing and does the right thing. In this business they have an agent, a publishing deal, and a million fans. They roll out of bed with a thousand words just falling out of their perfectly quaffed hair. Yeah, that’s right, because it’s not enough for this perfect person to be successful and respected. They're obviously beautiful too, with perfect hair, perfect skin, perfect style, and even perfectly manicured nails.

They're at church doing more good than you. They're at school having more friends than you. They're at work with more friends/respect/authority/seniority than you. They can probably even make 'fetch' happen.

These people never get drunk in public, they never act-a-fool, and they certainly never use their powers for evil.

Yeah, you know someone like this. People like this seem to pop up like mosquitoes in the summer – they’re everywhere and they'll suck your blood if you let them.

As a rule, my way of dealing with these perfect people is to by beating the crap out of befriend them. Maybe it's a little bit of 'keep your friends close and your enemies closer' and maybe it's a little bit of 'perfect people are people too' but I almost always try to befriend these people.

Don't get me wrong, they're intimidating. And I’m not immune to that fact. I try not to let my fear get between me and a potential learning opportunity.

So when one of these walking manicures at my day job asked me to lunch I was elated. I must be cool if a perfect person is asking me to lunch. Right?

We decided to walk to a restaurant and when we were crossing the street, I thought to myself 'gee, how much would it suck if I tripped right now?'

Well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

Immediately after I cleared the cross walk, in the middle of our conversation, the heel of my pump got caught in the cuff of my pants. The resulting stumble/grunt/face-plant on the sidewalk was not my finest moment. My chin was scuffed, my teeth hurt, and my coat was torn.

This perfect person just stood there while I wallowed in my humiliation.

Luckily, nothing was seriously injured except my pride. That doesn't stop my douche bag brain from replaying the fall over and over and over again adding hateful commentary like 'I bet she thinks you're dumb for falling,' 'you looked fat when you bounced off the concrete,' or even'you don't deserve to be an adult if you're going to fail at walking.'

Ultimately, I limped away from that chunk of sidewalk knowing I'm not perfect. Never will be. And as humiliated as I was on that day I’ve slowly come to terms with my lack of perfection. In fact, I’ve learned over the years that the perfect person who witnessed my shame is actually far from perfect (like a million light years from perfect).

I may have tripped and it was embarrassing but it was an accident. Accidents happen and generally can’t be prevented which is why we call them accidents. Whether we’re driving our car or shooting an email to an agent addressed to the wrong name. Crap happens. The measure of our character is not in how perfect we are – it’s in how we recover from mistakes when they occur. Because they will occur.

Embarrassing events in our life need to be relegated to a funny story instead of cycling through our douche bag brain. Here's to sharing shame and releasing its hold over you.

Have you every embarrassed yourself in front of someone you admired? Share your stories here:

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