Stop Letting the Fear of Embarrassment Decide Who You Are

A man is being chased by fear. Licensed for Creative Commons.

A man is being chased by fear. Licensed for Creative Commons.

Can you imagine your perfect life playing out? One where you are incredibly happy? 

The daydream is amazing; however, why does it seem that people often leave this dream unfulfilled?

There can be many factors that prevent people from living their best life, but one of the main contributing factors is the fear of embarrassment. 

Matt Martinich is a clinical psychologist and has insights into the necessity of fear in general. 

“Fear is very important to have for survival,” Martinich explained. “When people do not have enough fear, this can result in problems with impulsivity and risky choices/decision making.”

Fear, in general, is an important part of keeping us safe from danger; however, whether embarrassment is a danger is important to consider.

Embarrassment is an important thing, but the fear of embarrassment is limiting, unhelpful, and restrictive.

When it comes to fear of embarrassment, the physical and long term risks are low and even non-existent, yet humans tend to shy away from doing things they think will bring criticism into their lives.

Abigail Litchfield, a junior at AAHS, recalls her own experience with fear of embarrassment.

“I used to be scared of people humiliating me for the clothes I wanted to wear; however, recently… I wear what I want and it’s helped me feel more comfortable and happy in my own skin,” Litchfield said.

Changing your clothes is simple and harmless. The chances of people ridiculing or even noticing this change are low. The joy that can come from doing something that is uniquely individualistic should be worth the possible criticism from other people.  

Yet, humans put a great deal of worth into other people’s opinions. 

“I’m worried about what other people think and that impacts what I do,” junior Meredith Clabaugh explained. “I worry about small things like if other people will be doing the same thing as me, and if they’re not, I will change.”  

Everyone at some point in their life has experienced the same panic of standing out, as Clabaugh has. The point needs to be made that often times people are not paying attention to individuals and their specific movements, words, and behaviors. Instead, they are hyperfocused on themselves and what everyone is thinking about them.

 The fear of embarrassment not only affects lifestyle choices, like wardrobe, likes and dislikes, and other defining characteristics, but it can also change how we act on a day-to-day basis.

According to an article in Psychology Today, “Most researchers believe that the purpose of embarrassment is to make people feel badly about their social or personal mistakes as a form of internal (or societal) feedback, so that they learn not to repeat the error.”

People are taught from a young age how to act in public. Personal quirks are often repressed in the efforts to fit in. People who feel they can’t fix their differences may avoid situations that highlight their “flaws.” 

No one should have to avoid a harmless act that brings them joy, simply because of societal standards. 

Fun activities, social gatherings, and other recreational events should not be unattended due to the possible judgment of personality, body image, and interests.

Embracing personal differences is the best way to counteract the fear of embarrassment. When people are embarrassed, personal perseverance is important to keep that sense of self-worth and individuality.

Throwing the fear of embarrassment out the window when chasing that “perfect life” daydream is important to do. No matter the opinions of others the things that make people happy allow humanity to revel in individuality.