I’m not embarrassed nearly as often as I used to be. Sometimes I recoil at an admission of nerdiness, such as my recent purchase of “New Moon” the movie. However, by the time I had reached my car, movie in hand, I was more than happy to let my freak-flag fly and enjoy consumerist culture that I had quite literally just bought into. My previous need to hide any part of me that screamed of clichés or quirkiness seems to have somewhat dissipated. As my world expands and I recover from the black-hole of my eating disorder, I’m learning that what I enjoy is what I enjoy. No longer do I feel the need to walk the fine line between acceptable mainstream pursuits of happiness and overly trendy “embarassing” fads. Sometimes I love a good historical fiction novel, sometimes I choose to read something a little more intellectual. At times the movies I watch are insightful and capture the human condition in a new optic, and sometimes I watch “Letters to Juliet”. Perhaps one day I will wear jeans and a plain t-shirt, blending in with the rest of my peers, and the next day I might pull out a vintage-inspired cardigan and plaid shorts. The difference between me now and the me of years gone by is that I’m much more at peace with the ability to change my mind and go with what feels right at the moment.
Of course, I am not immune to second-guessing. It is still not easy for me to make a decision that truly reflects how I feel inside. I’ve found, though, that my first insinct is usually the right one, and that much of the time I spend waffling about what to do, what to wear or what to eat is actually wasted. Second-guessing is such a habit, and breaking it requires a lot of effort and desire to be secure in one’s convictions. I’ve had to learn to be ok with making wrong decisions, too, and acknowledging that next time when the same opportunity presents itself, as it usually will, I will know what a better decision is. Even wrong decisions can be right in their own way- for if the decision hadn’t been made, how would I have known that it wasn’t the right one?
I wax philosphic as if I were completely immune to the embarrassment bug that has tailed me for my whole life, as if in a moment of clarity I had escaped its clutches. I write as if I, like an ancient Greek thinker, had proclaimed “AHA!” and found the solution to all of life’s little doubts. I didn’t. I still face down embarrassment on a daily basis. The difference now is that I don’t let the feeling rule my whole life. Now, I recognize that like most, if not all, other feelings, embarrassment does eventually go away. When I was first told to “sit with” a feeling in treatment I looked at my psychologists like they had two heads. How, I wondered, is “sitting with” a horrible feeling going to help me at all? Months later and I realize that there is method to this seeming madness. Unlike what I had believed for so long, feelings don’t need to be pounded into a treadmill belt or only released in a fit of panic. To feel is to be human. To cry is to express emotion. To be embarrassed, too, is to face up to the feeling that others are looking on and evaluating every action or inaction. Perhaps people are doing so, or maybe they aren’t. But being paralyzed by the possibility gets me nowhere. As much as I’d love to not feel embarrassed by certain things I do or say, that would also mean that I was living in isolation, and not trying things on for size (pardon the pun). It is my belief that the socially-anxious, eating disordered part of me used the potential of embarrassment to hold me down and convince me that nothing I could do or say would ever be good enough. So now, instead of fearing embarrassment, every single day I try to defy the threat, and to make my decisions based on entirely different criteria. I suppose I’m not unembarrassed, and not unaffected by the judgements we all face every day, but I’m unwilling. Unwilling to let embarrassment cage and control me.