Do you ever have those moments when out of the blue your brain remembers something that is so intensely embarrassing you have this cringing reaction that's almost physically (and certainly emotionally/mentally) painful?
That happens to me about 5 times a day. For no reason at all, something will happen in my life that triggers a memory where I somehow embarrassed myself, and it takes everything I have to push past it and not let myself crumple into a ball of shame. The Lexapro has helped a lot with these episodes, they're much less intense, but they do still occasionally happen.
Well I had an epiphany last night that these shame memories are uniformly characterized by one thing: instances where I wasn't perfect. Which is so stupid.
I know I'm a perfectionist, but I don't want to be one. And I'm actually pretty good about controlling it when it comes to my work. But for whatever reason, I can't seem to do the same when it comes to my perfectionism about social situations. These cringe-worthy memories almost always have to do with a time where I misplayed a social event or interaction and feel like I've embarrassed myself.
Cognitive behavior therapy helps in reminding myself that just because I feel a certain way doesn't make it fact. In all likelihood, I'm overthinking these events and didn't embarrass myself at all. But even though these episodes aren't quite as bad as they used to be, they're still there. And I had a thought - maybe I'm going about this all wrong? Maybe instead of trying to tame my brain purely with psychology and SSRIs, I should also make an effort to have a little fun with it.
Like instead of struggling (and failing) to never remember an embarrassing memory, when it happens, maybe I should have a little laugh about it? And then I thought, hey! I have the perfect venue to do that! What better place to tell silly stories than on my blog?
So here's one:
When I was 17, I applied for a job at my local library. I aced the interview, and then they took me out to the stacks with a cart full of books and left me alone to put them in dewey decimal order.
Somehow, I interpretted this instruction to mean I should put the books back into the shelves. So I went around the library, putting the books away, feeling like .a boss. And then about half-way through, I realized I had made a grave error as it occured to me that they had only wanted me to put the books "in order" (as had been clearly stated) within the cart. Like, just shuffle the books around until they were in dewey decimal. And I couldn't fix my mistake, because I had no memory of which books I had been putting away.
So I sheepishly confessed my error to the librarian as soon as she returned and I'll never forget the look on her face: just dumbfounded that I had been unable to follow such a simple instruction, and had now likely mis-shelved several books, making her life even harder.
Needless to say, I didn't get the job. Usually if I get an interview, I smash it out of the park, but this was one instance where I just totally fucked it up.
And for the longest time, it was this embarrassing memory for me. Like how had I managed to misunderstand her extremely clear instructions that badly? I think I was just a little too excited. And I was definitely bummed I didn't get the job, because it was kind of my dream at that age to work in a library.
Ironically, one of my best friends applied for that same job, unbeknownst to either of us, and got it. And then she hated it! Said it was the most frustrating thing to spend all this time putting books away in the kids section only to have them ripped out again a matter of minutes later by a mob of preschoolers.
And this hardly relates to my story, but my friend ended up quitting that job in a matter of weeks and started working at the pet store across the road. And she told them from the very beginning that she could work every day, except this one Friday a month later. The manager said that was fine. And my friend reminded her of this date, several times. Meanwhile, she made all this effort to learn about the different animals they were selling, which she said was really hard because there was a lot to know, but the manager required it so she could answer any questions from customers. Well then that Friday rolls around and my friend sees that she's been scheduled to work that day. So she tells the manager, reminding her again that this is the ONE day she can't work. And the manager fires her!
I didn't learn about this latter half of the story that has almost nothing to do with me until several years after it happened, but I think it makes my failed job interview even funnier in retrospect. Like if I hadn't messed up so badly, maybe my friend wouldn't have gotten the library job, to then quit it, and eventually get fired from a pet store for a pretty bullshit reason.
By the way, my friend went on to have a very successful career in the Air Force and is now married with two beautiful kids, so it all worked out and we laugh about this. So it's really not an embarrassing thing at all. If it hadn't happened, we wouldn't be able to make fun of ourselves about it.
So this is what I'm going to try to do more often. Instead of cringing about similar memories, I'm going to make effort to laugh.
If you have an embarrassing/funny stories, please feel free to share in the comments!
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