I used to join beauty contests. Please don’t laugh. I did!
Yes I had guts, back in the days when shame and pressure of societal expectations were not yet part of my vocabulary, when fear of disappointment and failure were still strangers to me. What a fun opportunity it would be to be a kid again!
During family gatherings, i would volunteer to sing or declaim or dance. I had no shame even though i could not carry a tune. I was blissfully unaware of my lack of talent back then. My relatives adored me for my bravado, or maybe made fun of me? I’m not sure really.
I grew up to be a confident child, what with all those practice and the applause and praises of my family. And then the most embarrassing moment in my life happened – I peed in front of the class! After that unfortunate incident, i was depressed for a while. I would stay awake staring at the ceiling, shedding silent tears, hoping for answers why such an embarrassing experience happened to me. To my young mind, that was the ultimate worst thing that could happen to anyone. I was too embarrassed to go to school so i was absent for days. When i finally mustered to go back, i tried to put on a brave face but somehow i knew deep inside, there was a part of my self-esteem that died with the incident. There i said it, now let’s move on.
Move on? Easier said than done. I wasn’t able to move on for a while until i experienced deeper hurt and pain from failures, disappointments and heart breaks. That’s when i realized, one embarrassing experience does not define who I am and what i would become. I should stop wallowing in self-pity over something that has been done and can not be erased (and maybe already forgotten by most but me). I knew i had forgiven myself only when i could already laugh at the incident.
One good thing that i reaped from that embarrassing experience is this special relationship i have with God. Back when i was ashamed and at a very low point, i sought solace in Him and in writing. I am not religious but i have absolute faith in God’s grace and His unusual way of teaching us life lessons and showing us His unwavering love. He has become an old dear friend.
I would like to believe that I am a better person through that experience, humbled and more empathetic of the pain of others. I try hard not to embarrass another person because i know firsthand what it feels to be shamed and laughed upon. I have also learned to focus on my blessings and the good things that i have in life rather than the bad or sour part.
I have become stronger and grounded, accepting that life is hard and unfair at times. But most of all, i developed a sense of humor and learned to laugh at those many times i make a fool of myself.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” -Friedrich Nietzsche