I’m sure I’m not the only person who hates seeing other people embarassed. I grew up supremely empathetic for people in humiliating circumstances. I think this came from my anxiety disorder that crystalized in grade school.
I was as young as 4 or 5 when I started feeling acutely embarassed when I or anyone else did anything that could possibly cause another person to chuckle, stare, or whisper. I’d imagine other kids laughing their heads off at my stupidity when I wasn’t around.
I used to have sarcastic, cruel little comebacks stored up in my head in case anyone said anything I imagined they could possibly say as an insult. Of course, 99.999% of the time nobody said anything to my face and I never used any of those snappy comebacks.
So what did all the time brooding inside my head gain me? A lack of self-esteem, a habit of hating without cause, and a jump-to-conclusions mentality. It’s taken nearly two decades to learn the way out of that black hole. Now I know some tricks to kick the habit and thankfully God has been gracious enough to be patient with my sins, teach me how to be gracious and hopeful towards others, and grow my self-esteem.
At lunch I spent much of my time cleaning my apartment so Law doesn’t see what he already knows (that I’m messy when I live alone). But at the tail end of my break I stopped in for my favourite Jimmy John’s sandwich (#12 loaded). I greeted the cashier kindly as I try to with strangers I meet. I’d been served by her once or twice before so perhaps she did recognize me. After I ordered there was a small silence when I saw her take a breath before speaking, as if she wasn’t sure if talking was allowed. “How are the kids?” she asked, eyebrows peaked. “You mean the kids I don’t have?” I smiled and laughed softly; but then I saw that poor face–the face that said “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. Idiot! Just shut up and shake your head and stop blushing. Quick, talk to the other guy before she noticed how embarassed I am.” Okay, so maybe she didn’t think all of that per say, but I would have if I was her. So I gave her an empathetic smile and said something in gibberish about how hard it is to keep track of people. The poor girl was blushing up to her bangs. Ah well, dearie, we all do that once in a while.
Why the story? Well today was the first time in a long time I didn’t feel that horrible gut-tugging stress that comes when I see someone embarassed. this may sound cold to someone, but honestly it’sa relief for me. I was more able to comfort her and ease the situation than I would have if I had absorbed her embarassment as my own.
Score another point for being sure of myself and confident in who I am. Thanks God. And good sandwich.