Raise your hand if you had this one listed as one of your new year’s resolutions. Didn’t think so.
Okay, so maybe don’t try to do it intentionally, or get yourself spread across the internet, but also learn to not take yourself too seriously.
Believe me, I’ve humiliated myself more times than I’d like to remember. When I was younger, I used to get so embarrassed by my stupidity, and I let it affect me way more than it should have. I worried what other people thought about me. You can read my prior post about worry here.
But then I came to realize that we punish ourselves more than is necessary. You see, if your humiliation is in front of other people, I’ll bet you a lot of money that whatever you did will eventually be forgotten by those that witnessed it. Remember, most people are way too concerned with themselves to be thinking about what you did for all that long.
Since we internalize things more than we should, it’s harder for us to let go of that humiliation, or to make light of it.
Sure, there may be times when it’s pretty epic, but also know that you were the source of a great story that has made someone laugh – at least you were memorable!
A couple of wonderful examples come to mind for me.
The first story I’ll share happened just a few years ago, during a family vacation to Disney World in Orlando.
My son and I rented one of those little two-seat boats on the big lagoon, and had just returned to the dock from an awesome 30 minutes on the water.
The way we were directed back to the dock meant that I would get out of the boat first. The person there offered to help, but I thought I could manage without too much trouble.
At some point during my exit from the boat, my flip-flop somehow got caught on the engine. My balance was completely thrown off and the stumbling, fumbling began. It became clear to me immediately that I was going in the water. You know those times when seconds feel like hours, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. So in I went – wallet, cell phone, clothes and all.
Unfortunately for me, my son and the guy helping on the dock weren’t the only two people to witness this display of grace.
Yep, I was lucky enough to be the source of entertainment for dozens of people who were waiting nearby to board a boat over to the Magic Kingdom.
Finally relenting, and accepting help, I got myself out of the water (the dock didn’t have a ladder since most people generally don’t need one getting out of a boat at the same level as the dock), and began my slow, drenched slog to the office to pay for my boat rental.
I certainly felt many eyes of me (deservedly so!) and some smiles/laughs along the way, but the best was the reaction from the guy in the office. I wrestled my water-logged wallet from my pocket and handed him my wet credit card.
At that moment, about all I could muster was “I bet you’ve never seen that before, huh?”. At which point he responded, completely emotionless and without even looking up from his record keeping, “nope”.
My next story involves humiliation on a much larger scale, and is a story that many of my friends already know.
While in college, I auditioned, and was selected, to appear on Wheel of Fortune. That story and experience could be a blog post in and of itself, so I’ll cut to the chase here.
This is the link to the YouTube video of my appearance and, if you choose to entertain yourself by watching, you’ll notice that luck was not on my side that day.
What doesn’t help is asking for a letter that has already been called. Ouch.
For those of you watching at home, you’ll find that gem at about the 7:20 mark in the video. Talk about wanting to crawl into a hole in the ground. Unfortunately, there’s really nowhere to hide in that tiny little studio, and there sure isn’t anywhere to hide from the millions watching on TV.
This is the most recent article I was able to find regarding WOF’s viewership and in it Vanna White makes a comment that, at one point, she was told that the show is seen by 100 million people each week (I imagine much of that is through syndication, but it’s still a lot of people). At the end of the day, my humiliation has been share with tens, perhaps hundreds, of millions of people around the world.
But I’m still alive to write about it, so it wasn’t all that bad in the end. And you’d better believe that my close friends harass me about it to this day.
Remember, don’t take the humiliation too personally and, more importantly, learn from it! Roll with the punches, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and laugh about it!
And if you do happen to see someone else humiliate themselves, it’s okay to enjoy it but don’t go out of your way to make them feel badly about it. And take solace in knowing it happens to all of us from time to time!