|I had an interesting conversation with my son last week about making mistakes and the feeling of embarrassment. He was telling me about a typical eight-year-olds conflict with a friend and how he was called out and teased in front of a group of kids for being wrong about something. He was deeply embarrassed for getting such a simple fact (about Pokeman) wrong. The flushed face, pit in your stomach, complete discomfort of making a social faux pas in front of others, has to be hands-down one of the worst human emotions. |
During my first week of university I headed to a small classroom for my first Victorian Literature seminar. Within moments the Teaching Assistant stood up, introduced himself and wrote in scrawling white board marker “Welcome to Symphonic Music Theory.”
Clearly I was in the wrong classroom.
Instead of simply standing up, waving to the TA and leaving this class that I a) was not signed up for and b) couldn’t even decipher from the name what it actually was, I sat…for 90 minutes. The entire time I silently pleaded with the universe to not be called on to contribute anything to the discussion. I glanced at the notes being taken by the girl beside me, trying to see if I could glean any information about what symphonic actually was (she had horribly messy writing and was no help). I thought about fleeing for a bathroom break, never to return. I kept my head down and tried to recall any musical theory I had retained from the six months of piano I took when I was nine just in case there was a pop quiz.
Guys, I made a made a simple mistake. Absolutely no big deal, but I was too embarrassed to admit it and wasted 90 minutes of my life unable to move on. Things like this used to happen to me a lot. I hated messing up in front of others and would turn the colour of a beet the second I felt singled out. I’ve had my fair share of beating myself up and losing sleep for walking into poles, having food in my teeth, and yep, several times my skirt has in fact been tucked into my underwear. Don’t even get me started on the shame and embarrassment of getting in trouble by an adult!
I don’t know how (maybe age, maybe realizing we’re all fallible, maybe just measuring the situation against ALL the other problems in the world), but I honestly can’t recall the last time I felt embarrassed, and let me tell you – I’d conservatively estimate I make at least four faux pas’ daily. If today I walked into that Symphonic Music Theory class I would immediately make a joke, leave and never think of it again (I would also know that it is the theory of the actual symphony because, duh Karla).
I knew that telling my son “you’ll grow out of feeling embarrassed” or “who cares, it’s only Pokeman” was not the answer he needed to hear last week. Instead I reminded him making mistakes makes him human and perfect people are boring. Then…I reminded him to double check what class he walks into this week.