March 16, 2015, by Words on Words
“I Nearly Died From Embarrassment”
This blog post was written by first year English and Hispanic student, Sally Hirst from the School of English.
Why are we, as a generation, so concerned about what others think of us? It doesn’t matter if we’ve known someone all our lives, or simply for an hour, we want everybody to perceive us in a positive light.
I’ve used the phrase “I nearly died from embarrassment” more times than I care to admit. Clearly, I’ve never meant it in a literal sense. I’ve used it to describe a variety of everyday experiences such as tripping over my words in class, failing to correctly put one foot in front of the other (resulting in a stumble-gasp combo) or noticing somebody I know in the gym while I’m braving the equipment in front of the screen showing Jeremy Kyle. It’s incredible how uncomfortable such small daily incidents can make us feel.
It’s this sensation of slight embarrassment that sometimes prevents us from participating in various activities. I, personally, hate to speak up in seminars and being asked a question sends me into a near frenzy from fear that my contribution to the class is some ridiculous, garbled answer that barely makes it through my lips in a comprehensible sentence.
I am well aware that feeling so uncomfortable in such ordinary situations is melodramatic, and that how people view me should not be any concern of mine, but it doesn’t change the fact that such small anxieties dominate my life and many others too. This self-conscious attitude is represented across literature and is often attributed to female characters (such as in Jane Eyre, where the narrative voice of Jane often describes her own appearance as ‘plain’). This reflects the common stereotype that women were far more self-conscious than men – in the nineteenth century at least – and so we might deem self-conscious behaviour a feminine trait. Do you agree?
If I could take my own advice I would relax and disregard the potential opinions of everyone else. How other people view you should not dictate your behaviour or appearance. They’re probably worrying about the same things anyway.
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