You Never Quite Grow out of Embarrassing Yourself

It’s hard to be graceful in a retail employee’s vest and pants smattered in paint.

It just so happened that he walked in with his girlfriend at that moment.

He, being a guy who I never had anything with; just random words and faces thrown across a room at each other and several moments where he happened to be there to sort of empathize with me while other guys awkwardly hit on me. He who spoke to me even less when I took out my extensions and went fully natural (though maybe that’s just my perception). And his girlfriend, who always walked past me with a bitter glare to replace the once-laughing and cheery expression she’d had with someone else just seconds before. Very pretty, both everything and nothing I wanted to be in the same fell swoop.

Yeah, in that moment, it was hard to be graceful as I noticed them and tried not to look or smile which I normally do. Because he used to greet me but when he was with her he wouldn’t, and because she greeted me once and never again.

Then, the cart I was pulling behind me tripped me, gnawing at my ankles. I stumbled as I passed and left the cart and my shoe behind as evidence. As I recovered myself and continued by, I heard their laughter.

I swear, the moments after that were agonizingly confusing for me.

Usually, I’ll laugh at myself. And I did. But I felt my face get hot. I thought, That’s weird. It suddenly got really hot in here. And then, Pretty sure you’re just embarrassed, Honey. (What, you don’t call yourself Honey? Maybe you should start. It’s similar liking your own posts online, except much less public.) I was embarrassed. Humiliated, even. Sure, I didn’t completely lose my balance and faceplant to the floor—and by extension, I didn’t knock an entire display of lightbulbs over on the way down. But I was trying to convince three people in that moment that I was over a ridiculous crush on a guy who 1) had a girlfriend and 2) was clearly not worthy of my infatuation to begin with; him, her, and myself. I failed miserably. I got laughed at by a guy I considered to be really nice if not unattainable, and his girlfriend who practically ignored my existence whenever she could. I was pulled back to miserable middle school memories, and, need I remind you, I’m twenty-one whole years old.

I told myself, it’s really, really hard to be graceful in a retail vest and pants smattered in paint when you’re trying to be the epitome of poised and over it.

So don’t be.

Don’t take yourself so seriously. That feeling of wanting to be looked at as a girl with her shit together to prove someone wrong is born from darkness—especially when it’s not true. But if I’m gonna be embarrassed at myself, they shouldn’t get to be the only ones who benefit from it. I’m going to laugh at the fact that I turned into a klutz at the worst possible moment because I hardly ever trip up that badly and of course it happens when I see him for the first time in months with his girlfriend on his arm, being far more graceful in retail employee attire than me in that moment. I’m going to laugh, and then I’m going to take from it the lessons I needed to learn: Don’t take yourself too seriously, and wow, you really didn’t miss out on much by not pursuing him. Even if by some miracle it had worked, he’s a total asshole.—You know, lessons I thought I learned a long time ago. I guess the Universe thought I needed a refresher, and it was clearly right—and then, I’m going to let it go.

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