I heard an interview on NPR the other day with Aisha Tyler about her new book — all about her most humiliating moments. It got me thinking about my own humiliations that I’ve brought on myself over the past 37 years.
There was a time in my life when I was deathly afraid of making a fool of myself. I remember being terrified of people laughing at me in middle school for my clothes or music, or even the way I sat. I feel kind of sad thinking about that now. I think I spent more time worrying about what others thought of me than in truly embracing who I was.
I think that’s why I approach humiliation differently now. I’m much more comfortable in my own skin — so I feel more courageous and willing to put myself out there.
I regularly laugh at myself and humiliate myself in all sorts of ways. Like Olympic Lifting and Crossfit. There is no room for ego. And there is always someone better than me.
And 9 times out of 10 someone is going to snap a picture of me with a crazy look on my face or having sweat stains under my arms or my belly poking out.
Oh, that’s lovely. Just lovely.
And yet there is something to be learned from humiliation. I usually learn what I’m capable of. If I didn’t do things because I was worried about embarrassing myself, I wouldn’t be where I am now. I remember being a teenager and trying that whole schtick of not doing something because it would mess up my hair. What a boring, fat girl I was.
Life is worth the risk of humiliation, especially since you don’t know where it will lead. Or maybe you DO know where it will lead. It could end in failure or it could lead to success. Humiliation could potentially go along with either, but it’s more likely to accompany failure.
And I guess that’s where your mindset comes in. Are you afraid of failure? Or do you embrace it?
I made a conscious decision to embrace failure not too many years ago (yes — it’s only been a couple of years. I’ve grown a lot). It’s scary and hard, and I’m not always successful at it, but I was tired of being boring and letting my environment determine who I was going to be. I think about Olympic Lifting mostly because I’ve struggled so much in it. It’s all about trying and failing. I feel like a huge goof sometimes. But I made a conscious decision to stick with it and give it everything I have, no matter how hard it gets.
I think embracing my failure in Olympic Lifting has helped me do so in other aspects of my life. I figure, if I can do it in Oly, which is really hard, it’s can’t possibly be that bad at work or home. Right? The worst is rarely has bad as we fear it to be.
It’s not about the failure. It’s about how you handle the failure.