When I was a sophomore in high school I was dating a boy who I was seriously infatuated with and constantly wondering if he liked me as much as I liked him. We were hanging out before a basketball game one evening at the school. We decided to leave the gym right before the game started and as we were walking across the gym floor in front of a packed house (which isn’t saying too much at my small school) – I fell.
I was so terribly mortified and overwhelmed with an incredible desire to be killed by a bolt of lightening…I immediately understood the term, “Died from Embarrassment.” That’s what I wanted to do in that moment…DIE. I was that embarrassed. Utterly and intensely mortified.
I don’t know if it was that early on embarrassing experience that made me so sensitive to other people’s awkward situations, or if I was just born sensitive and that’s why that moment was so painful for me. Either way…I have a very inherent and strong need to avoid any awkward situations. This is why I can NOT, under ANY circumstances, watch those first few weeks of American Idol. I feel the embarrassment too vividly to suffer through that willingly. I even stopped watching the entire show years ago because there were too many times when the judges called out really bad performances in ways that made me want to DIE. Not just for the singer, but for ME. That’s how easily I empathize.
On other shows, like So You Think You Can Dance, I’ll fast-forward through potentially embarrassing or awkward parts of the show. This drives my family KRAZEE. I can’t help it.
Recently…someone somewhere (and I swear I tried to hunt it down so I could give that person credit) used the term, “Embarrassment Pillow.” In reference to that pillow you grab from next to you on the couch to cover your face when something awkward or embarrassing happens on TV. I need to carry an Embarrassment Pillow around with me in my purse because it’s not just on TV that I cringe for others.
If I’m standing in line behind someone who’s card get’s rejected? I want my Embarrassment Pillow. That one is very vivid because I’ve been there too many times to count…on the DENIED! end of the situation. Whenever it happens in front of me I’ll busy myself with my cell phone, or my kids, or my hair…anything to pretend I haven’t seen the person get told their credit card doesn’t work.
When socially awkward people do embarrassing things in social situations…I often want to crawl under the table and hide. I’ve had a few people in my life like that throughout my years and I ended up simply avoiding being in large groups with them. I couldn’t take the risk. Oh…how I truly wish to really be able to have an Embarrassment Pillow to hide behind. Especially if it came with Embarrassment Headphones to block out the sounds.
In short — my intense sensitivity towards other’s experiences stretches from TV to real life. And can I tell you a secret? It has also stretched to the internet.
Any time there’s any sort of conflict in the blogosphere, whether it’s mild or severe, I totally avoid all discussion about it. Sometimes I can’t avoid it entirely, but I do everything in my power if I see an entry heading towards the topic of conflict…I totally stop reading. I’m always afraid if I dig too much into the story I’ll end up feeling awkward or embarrassed for one or all of the parties involved. I’m betting 9 times out of 10 if I just read about the debate I wouldn’t feel awkward or embarrassed, but since I feel those things so intensely? The risk is too much. I avoid any situation that brings back feelings of me tripping across my high school gym floor with my boyfriend standing there next to me.
Even if that internet drama relates to a celebrity…I avoid it like the plague. When Britney shaved her head? When Vanessa Hudgens had embarrassing photos leaked? When ANYONE had a sex tape? I avoid any website or video or blog discussing those situations because I feel so terribly bad for this person…that I do not even know. And don’t even get me started on the Gosselins. I never watched their show and the crazy drama around their split? And their 8 kids? I know nothing about it. Because I can’t read or listen to anything about it without wanting to stab my eyeballs out.
Because I am weird.
Please tell me I’m not alone. Would you use an Embarrassment Pillow to hide in uncomfortable situations? Just for TV? Real Life? Internet Drama? Or am I the only one who would like to have one permanently attached to my body?