It’s 8:30 am, and I’m surprisingly not running behind this morning. I’ve already worked out, showered, had my coffee, and I’m entering into mirror time. This stage of the get ready process usually goes 1 of 2 ways. I’m either running so late that my mind lets me off the hook and allows my 15th alarm to raise my anxiety levels… Or things are going really well, too well. So, my mind begins to cycle through all the awkward things I’ve ever done in my entire life.
Does this ever happen to you?
Like everything’s fine. You’re in a great mood. You’ve been nice to people. You’re on time. Like literally, nothing is happening to make your mind just run off the deep end and start digging up all the ugly, awkward, and just weird things you’ve ever done, heard, seen, or said… but fear not. Just like clockwork. That memory of you falling out of the car as you rolled up to your first day of high school just popped up.
If this has never happened to you, congratulations.
You are not human.
If this happened to you just this morning, Girl. I feel you! It was weird, right?! One minute, you were looking at your reflection thinking how great it is that you face is all clear and the pimple from last week has gone away, and then it happens. You remember that one time. The time when you were in 8th grade, and during gym time when you got hit in the stomach, lost your breath and literally looked like an absolute psycho as you tried to regain consciousness… and like everyone said it wasn’t that bad, but you stare at yourself in the mirror, dying at the horror of just how awful you think you looked in that moment.
Okay, how ’bout, you’re just starting to style your hair, and you randomly remember the worst thing you’ve ever said about another girl. Yep. That thing. And then you remember how she was standing right behind you, heard you, and was all “WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?” … yeah, try looking at yourself in the mirror, remembering that rumor you started… ugh.
Maybe you were a nice person a never started any rumors.
So instead, you’re looking in the mirror, completely satisfied with what you see, and you start to remember how that one friend from college said your eyebrows were WAY overgrown and how you should definitely do something about them. Or you remember that comment about how finals week caused you to gain a few pounds. Oh… and then that cycles, and you’re brain realizes it has struck a nerve, and you go down like a super ugly trail of memories of all the times you either sat in your car eating all the snacks… or the times when you sat in class with stomach growling because you didn’t eat for 3 days to be lovely.
Yeah. I see you.
Why on earth does the get ready phase of a perfectly good morning do this to us?
A few Sundays ago, my husband caught me in the midst of my emotional roller coaster of ugly morning mind games, and he looked right at me and said: “what are you thinking right now?” That’s code for, “don’t say ‘nothing.’ I can see those wheels turning. spill.”
I started laughing and was like, “do you ever just remember every awkward moment of your life all at one time, and you kind of want to die of embarrassment from things that happened when you were like 12?“
Obviously, he’s a man. So the answer was “NO.”
He had no idea why I was thinking of that one time when I came out of the bathroom, and the entire back of my dress was stuck in my pantyhose (because life is hard), and how everyone saw BECAUSE HIGH SCHOOL IS ALSO HARD… Like why? Why in the very moment where I am supposed to be prepared my heart for Jesus, and getting myself ready for church, would I be daydreaming of this horribly embarrassing moment?
Follow me on this one. You know how your ears make wax, and I’m sure there’s like a biological/scientific reason as to why we have it, but it just feels so much better when we clean our ears out and remove all the wax. Like the wax itself just seems like a bad thing. Like it’s clogging our ears and keeping us from living our best lives and being able to hear. I mean, yes I know this is a stretch.. but I need you to keep following me down this tiny rabbit trail.
Pretend for a second that ear wax had absolutely zero benefits to your body. Pretend that it was just completely irrelevant and even a bit damaging. (I know doctors say it’s natural, but just pretend.) Like it just definitely didn’t need to be in your ears at all. So, like 90% of humans on the East Coast, you take a q-tip (even though your doctor says not to) and you clean out all that wax.
You instantly feel like a new human.
You are free from all the wax.
It’s that simple. You break a rule. You use a q-tip to clean out your ear, and you get rid of all the crap in your ears that makes you feel all gross and yucky. Now you are free to feel like a new human!
Okay, so now pretend like all of your embarrassing memories, all of the ugly things people have ever said to you, all the ugly things you have ever thought or said, and all the just painfully awkward things you’ve ever done – pretend like these are the wax. Yep, imagine it. All that wax. All those awkward haircuts and the many attempts at rocking bangs. All the times you tripped in front of a boy or spilled your water because who drinks out of cups??? I need a straw! All of that – it’s now wax.
It’s wax, like the wax in your ears.
And instead of the doctor telling you not to clean it out with a q-tip, your mind is telling you not to clean it out. Leave it there, your mind says. Don’t process it. Don’t let it go. Let me use it as ammunition to completely sabotage a fantastic morning you might have next week. Let me remind you of your middle school mean streak the next time you pay it forward. Let me keep you humble with memories of failure the next time you meet a goal you set. Don’t clear it out. Leave it there. Let it just sit there.
See what it’s doing? Your mind? Your mind is letting crap just sit there so it can use it later to manipulate a moment of peace into a moment of embarrassment over something that happened a lifetime ago.
And I don’t know why our minds do this. I don’t know why I’ve been reliving something stupid I said 2 years ago play on repeat in my mind ever since I said it. I. Don’t. Know. But, I think I’ve figured out how to fix it.
Make peace with it.
Yeah, I was a hella awkward teenager. Mom says I wasn’t, but it sure felt like I was. I never knew the right thing to say, and I was always tripping over my words (and my feet). So, I have like 10,000 memories of embarrassing moments from where I said or did something weird. This means I have like 10,000 memories just from my teen years to make peace with. and I know… this seems like it’s going to take forever, but it won’t. It starts by giving my younger self a hug. (in my head). Then, forgive myself for being the rude little child I was when I didn’t get my way. And lastly, for allowing myself to receive grace because even though I was awkward or embarrassed too many times for comfort, I was 100% human in all of those scenarios which means:
being perfect was never in the cards for me.
Not saying it’s easy, just saying it’s possible. Work through the embarrassment from your youth, your young adult years, the college days, all of it. Deal with the ugly things people said to you. Process the trauma of embarrassment, and then breathe. Look at yourself in the mirror while you brush your teeth, and tell your mind to chill. You’ve grown up now, and you can literally do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about all the humiliating and embarrassing things from your past. Like, you just can’t.
It happened. It’s in the past.
That’s my mantra these days. There is no place in my life for awkward memories of embarrassing attempts to be cool unless its just a funny story that I’m telling to make someone laugh. Otherwise, it can stay where it happened – in the past.
Here’s to wishing you all a more glorious morning tomorrow and some happy mirror time because girl, you are just fine. You got this. I can promise you, there is no way in this world that you can possibly be as embarrassing as you were in middle school. You’ve definitely gotten better with time 😉
– the Wife