I used to fear embarrassing stories. In fact, I even kept an embarrassing story handy in case someone ever asked me my most embarrassing moment. I would then whip one out without ever telling them my real most embarrassing moment. Still with me? I’ve since gotten over that, and it came by sharing my humiliations often.
The administrative building at my university was this awkward giant of a structure that conveniently had its bathrooms on every other floor. My meeting with my professor was on that other floor and the combination of the college pizza and coffee diet was working through me. I limped down the flight of stairs to the toilet on the floor below. Of course, in my haste, I didn’t realize the bathroom that good fortune would lead me to was the wheelchair accessible option. In this case, it means lower than typical toilets. Not a problem, right? So I pop a squat and enjoy immediate relief.
As I pulled up my pants I discover the dilemma before me. Angles, trajectory, and a lowered toilet didn’t work in my favor and somehow I had mananged to piss my pants. The back of my pants.
Yes, I pissed on the back of my pants. In college.
Bill Deresiewicz is one of my recent favorite discoveries. He is a writer, thinker, and intellectual (he also emails back!!). In his book A Jane Austen Education he writes that humiliation is the fastest way to grow up. Growing up means making mistakes, and not just making mistakes. He explains you really need to feel them. Embarrasment has taught me something important. It has taught me that your most embarrassing moment isn’t a big deal. Or at least, once shared, no longer maintains such an impending presence in your life.
So, the next time you see me, or the first time you meet me, please feel free to tell me your most embarrassing moment and feel even freer to bring up mine. If I have a new one by then, I’ll be sure to share mine.