Who hasn’t flirted with the cutest guy ever with a piece of pepper from lunch stuck in her front teeth or dropped a tampon on the checkout counter when pulling her wallet from her purse or asked the pharmacist to refill her “subscription.” We all experience highs brought down by discovery of our inadequacy. We all have accidents. We all say stupid things. And sometimes, in the midst of our mistakes, it can feel like the sky is falling and that we’ll never recover.
Really, how will we ever face the cutest guy again, knowing he saw that huge hunk of black pepper and didn’t say anything? Our imagination runs away with us. We imagine that he thought our front teeth were rotten, or that we’re so unattractive he didn’t think it was worth telling us we had something in our teeth. Oh the agony. Oh, how we duck our heads whenever we see him in the hallway. Oh, how we fear he’s laughing at us with his friends.
But embarrassing situations are survivable. It just takes some finesse.
1) First of all, stay calm. When that errant tampon drops and rolls across the checkout counter, don’t try to act like it isn’t yours. Don’t turn bright red and scramble to snatch it up, thus spilling the contents of your purse everywhere. Maintain your composure. Confidently pick it up and put it back in your purse as if it is a dime that got loose from your change purse.
2) Second, find some meaning in the situation. Learn a lesson of some sort. Maybe you need to resolve to brush your teeth after lunch. Maybe your purse needs a good purge. Maybe it’s a sign that your head is muddled up with too much information and you need a break from the routine. Whatever the message in the moment, listen to what the universe is trying to tell you.
3) Third, share it with someone. Telling another person about the experience makes it seem not so life altering. Relaying the story to a friend often makes us aware of the humor in it and the resulting laughter is very healing for the ego.
Apply these three principles and an embarrassing situation will never get you down again, at least not for long.
Lucy Adams is a newspaper humor columnist, freelance writer and author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run (Palm Tree Press, 2011) and If Mama Don’t Laugh It Ain’t Funny (Palm Tree Press, 2007). E-mail Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her web site, http://www.ifmama.com/.)