How to handle yourself in embarrassing moments

Dear Daughter,

Yesterday I stopped at Jimmy John’s to get a sandwich (Beach Club, no sprouts, extra avocado). When I walked in and waited in line, the guy behind the counter kept looking at me with a shy smile on his face. At first I assumed he thought I was cute, but then I looked down and was humbly put back into my place. I was four months pregnant and wearing what looked like pajamas. If he thought I was cute, he needed to get out more.

Finally it was my turn in line and I rattled off my order. The guy said, “That’ll be eight-oh-two… and did you know that your car door is still open?” He pointed toward the window and sure enough, my driver’s side door was wide open, ready for the next available burglar to enter and rummage through its contents.

To say I was mortified is an understatement. I ran outside and shut the door, and when I returned the entire Jimmy John’s staff was laughing at me. Rightfully so. I laughed along with them, all the while feeling like the dumbest, ditziest person on earth.

People are sometimes surprised at just how ditzy I am, actually. I have book smarts but I’m the first to admit that I’m lacking in street smarts. I’ve had many a “dumb blonde” moment, even though I’m as brunette as it gets. I think God made me ditzy to keep me humble. It’s working.

So, Daughter, I consider myself an expert on how to handle oneself during the open-car-door moments in life. If you ever make an embarassing move, here’s how you should handle it:

1) Laugh at yourself. Getting embarrassed is okay, but if you’re so embarrassed that you can’t find humor in the situation, it’ll make people uncomfortable, like they’re making fun of you. I mean, they are making fun of you, but if you can make fun of yourself right along with them, they’ll feel less mean.

2) Don’t try too hard to explain yourself. Or if you do explain, make a joke of it. Things like, “I meant to do that” or “I was just wondering if you’d notice; way to be observant!” are good ones, but the more clever the better. If I had thought quickly enough, my response to the open car door would have been, “You say at Jimmy John’s that your subs are so fast I’ll freak, so I was testing that. I was expecting to return to the car at lightening-fast speed.” Or something like that.

3) After you’ve all had a good laugh, move on with your matters. If you dwell on your dumbness for too long, you’ll start to look insecure. So laugh about it, make a joke, and then get back to what you were doing in the first place, with a smile on your face and your head held high. You’ll exude confidence at a time when you shouldn’t be, and that’ll bring back others’ respect for you.

4) When appropriate, share your story with others. After leaving Jimmy John’s, I tweeted about it, and later told my friend and husband about it. Somehow sharing it with others made me feel better. I learned that I’m not alone, that everyone has made a similar mistake at some point. Plus, people like hearing about other people’s goof-ups. We like to know when seemingly perfect people do imperfect things.

Being embarrassed is one of the worst feelings in life, but with these tips, you can make the best of it.

And remember, Daughter… never, ever forget to shut your car door.



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. unblogknown
    Aug 04, 2011 @ 11:51:26

    I really like how you use letters to your daughter, is a really intrestesting and unique. This post was especially funny and helpful as I have experienced many embarrasing moments in my life 🙂 Great Post


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