Encouraging Embarrassment

The ball is right in front of me.

I’m standing as the goalkeeper, eagerly waiting for the ball to come in my direction.

“Catch it, catch it!”, my teammates are shouting at me.

The opponent kicks it straight at me, it’s in my hands…

Then a gust of wind distracts me and I let go of the ball.

My mishap let the opponents score a goal, and my teammates are screaming out in despair and disappointment.

Yeah, this wasn’t how I expected my first football game to go.


That evening, I was basically on the verge of a nervous breakdown, going over the dreadful situation all over again in my head, wishing deeply to emigrate to another country, preferably one that didn’t know what football was. I was drowning myself in thoughts of embarrassment and disappointment.

To make things worse, my mum locked me in the balcony for fifteen minutes, which was AMAZING, thanks ma (note the sarcasm), and after that, I couldn’t take it anymore. I felt the weight of the world falling on my shoulders, and I felt beaten.

I’m a perfectionist. There. I said it. I’m certainly not afraid of it. I take immense pride in excelling at something, irrespective of my interest or experience in the particular craft. Whatever it is, I tend to drive myself to physical and emotional limits in order to be the best at it.

My inability to hold on to a ball (that was already in my hands) shook me to my core for some weird reason. It reminded me of a truth that I buried deep inside my mind; a truth that I wanted to forget – that I’m not good at everything.

No one really ever is, though.

So if you’re going through a phase of excruciatingly painful embarrassment, read the following tips to deal with the pain.

Let it wash over you.

Don’t resist the pain. That’s the last thing you should do. Instead, just take a moment to relax, and let the feeling of embarrassment pass over you. By doing so, the feeling won’t run all over you for a long time. The sooner you deal with the pain, the sooner the pain will subside.

Talk.

With anyone! On the evening of my (disgraceful) failure, I spent thirty minutes having a conversation with my mom about everything that happened. It really helped me clear my head about the whole situation and I felt infinitely more confident in myself afterward.

Fail fast, fail often.

The most important thing I learned that day is that if I want to get better at something, I must be willing to mess up. Badly and often. The only way to know how far you can go is by going as far as you can go, and going a little bit further until you crash. The only way to understand your full capability is by first knowing your shortcomings. I learned that I sucked at catching a ball. Thanks to that dreadful experience, I now know that with proper training and practice, I can learn how to catch a ball properly, which will, in turn, make me a better football player. Which leads me to my next tip:

Understand that it’s for your own good.

In time, you must learn to trust your mistakes, for they teach you exactly what you need to learn.

Realize that this is normal.

It is normal to feel inadequate and beat up from time to time. So give yourself space to breathe whenever you feel like you’re not good enough. Take a step back and tell yourself that whatever it is you’re going through, it will pass and that you are not alone.

The world is like a reverse casino. In a casino, if you gamble long enough, you’re certainly going to lose. But in the real world, where the only thing you’re gambling is, say, your time or your embarrassment, then the more stuff you do, the more you give luck a chance to find you. – Scott Adams

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