Don’t embarrass me

It all started when I was looking for a new Kate Spade purse on eBay. (Yes, I do feel a little bit guilty for wanting a new purse already. I’ve only been using my current one for a year and a half, while I used the previous one for almost four years.)

Anyway, I found a unique one that was ruby red and sparkly, like Dorothy’s slippers in “The Wizard of Oz.” I showed it to my husband and he said that even if I thought it was cute, I’d be too embarrassed to leave the house with it. I thought about it for a bit, then realized that he was right.

I do tend to embarrass easily and generally hate to draw attention to myself, especially in public. I used to have a friend who behaved like she was always on stage, dressing very unconventionally and talking and laughing very loudly. I felt like she couldn’t ever “read the room,” so to speak, and keep her voice at a more moderate level. It embarrassed me because I felt like I was being dragged on stage with her against my will, simply by virtue of being in her presence.

Of course, everyone has their own unique way of expressing themselves how they want to and that’s fine. I don’t expect people to change themselves just to accommodate me. But it was a sign I should have taken more seriously that our personalities were just way out of sync.

I used to think that maybe this was an issue of low self-esteem on my part, the desire not to stand out in a crowd. But I’ve done a lot of work on myself and feel that my self-esteem is now pretty good. Yet I still don’t enjoy drawing attention to myself, at least not because of what I’m wearing or how loud I am. I don’t mind if I draw attention to myself for expressing my opinions, though.

I think that reflects my life goals in general. I’d rather be remembered for what I had to say and how I treated people than for what I wore or what first impression I made on people. I’d never want to be remembered for being loud.

My desire not to stand out from the crowd largely stems from when I did stand out as a kid, but it wasn’t by my choice. I was already much tinier than the other kids my age and to top it off, my clothes were really cheap. I know, it sounds so shallow now. I’ve long ago made peace with my parents for putting me in that position because they were doing the best they could with their limited resources. But at the time, I just yearned desperately to blend in, to look like everyone else. It’s one thing to look different by choice, but it’s something else entirely when it’s not your choice.

So my husband was right: I probably would be too embarrassed to leave the house with a glittery purse, the same way I’d be embarrassed to wear clothes with sequins. The last thing I want is to be flashy—or god forbid, gaudy or tacky. Give me a bag with very classic style and some tasteful jewelry to wear with my wardrobe of t-shirts and jeans. I’ll blend in as intended, not standing out because of what I’m wearing. The only statements I want to make, I’ll express in words.

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