Let’s face it: there is a cut out of a perfect person that we all to some extend aspire to be. We can blame the media, peer pressure, our parents, society, culture, politics, anything really, but putting this to one side, we do hold this desire, somehow, even if it is very faint and rejected by our consciousness. And through its lens we observe our life and make all our decisions. Everything is fine and good, and pink, and fluffy as long as it stays within this cut out norm. Everything that falls outside of it should be avoided at all costs. But what about the borderline cases? How do we deal with them? Our journey into the land of neither good nor bad will probably be long, but let us start with an embarrassing hobby.
Sometimes I feel like my world has turned very black-and-white with age; but it has not been THAT long since I was a 13-year-old and my judgement scale was a little bit more diverse. A bit, I say, because it has only halved with time. Back in the old but not very good years everything used to fall into one of four categories. I either liked it or I did not, as I would mark it now, or I pretended I liked it because…, or I pretended I didn’t like it because… It made sense, I promise. I am sure all teens in the world would agree with me on that one.
I can think of very few things I would rather take forward with me from this stage of my life, but being embarrassed of something I enjoy is not one of them. Yet somehow, regardless of how rational I may sound talking about it, a little twinge of embarrassment still remains in me even now that I am older and maybe even wiser on top of that.
I do hope I am wiser than when I was 13.
Step 1: Give it a name
An old saying says that our own known devils are always better than the unknown ones. And the best way to tame something, as the Little Prince has taught us, is to give it a name.
What is it that we are so embarrassed of?
This comes in two steps. The first one is to define the problematic action itself. The second one is the reaction it may cause in us and the people around us. Because if we are indeed embarrassed, we not only must be embarrassed of something, we must also be embarrassed in front of someone, mustn’t we?
As with anything, it is easier said than done. Pinning down what exactly makes us feel uneasy about acting upon our embarrassing hobby can be a very long process. It mixes all the fan favourites: denial, disregard, anger, self-pity, so it may keep you occupied for the longest of times.
This post features lots of photos of my boyfriend’s Warhammer collection. I guess that is his embarrassing hobby, was rather, because I am sure he’d never let me do this if he didn’t feel comfortable with it. You see, my boyfriend is not much of a nerd. Or a geek. Or whatever you want to label poor lads who do play Warhammer. Warhammer lives just outside of his cut out.
What could it be, the blocking factor? Being considered a child? Not being cool enough (don’t trust the advertisement – things do not become cool when needed, the rules of hard and brutal coolness do not care about your feelings)? That’s not the point of discussion for now. What’s important is that he managed to pin it down to the very core and get on with it.
Step 2: Realize you’re not alone
Truth is, we all have at least one embarrassing hobby.
I do. You do. Our mums do. Our fathers as well. Siblings. Neighbours. Co-workers. The people we pass by on the streets. The people we meet on trains. Celebrities. Politicians. Life coaches. Philosophers. Doctors. I bet you anything that even the Queen has something behind her belt.
(now that is a random collection of words!)
Doing what is not expected of us is not abnormal. We do not stand out from the crowd just because we strayed from the ideal representation of what we are meant to be. It is oh so human to look for our own way, to explore and to not fit in… just a tiny bit.
It sounds like a truism and a cliché, because it is one, but we ARE all different. We can match on certain levels, we may generalize into particular groups, we may form collectives, but there will always be these… tiny things. These little fuzzy edges that do not quite fit the normal form, but they don’t break it either.
The question of whether or not it is worth fighting for stretching these forms, these cut outs, or even if we should abandon them and enter a state of social semi-anarchy remains open. I’m sure I will come back to it, but this is not the time. Sorry.
Any embarrassing hobby falls into this category – of not quite belonging, of just about missing the mark on the world’s expectations towards us as a person. And everyone misses the mark sometimes. If there is one thing you carry out of this blog post, let it be this one.
Step 3: Give yourself a go
At the end of the day you are the most vicious and heartless judge of yourself that you will ever meet.
I used to judge myself a lot, I mean, A LOT. Nothing was good enough, and in some areas of life, it is still not good enough. But at some point in life I realized that I just cannot win every single battle. It might kill me if I tried.
There are quite a lot of areas of life in which I definitely give myself a go ahead and do anything you want to (just don’t accidentally hurt anyone in the process, please) type of green light. And it works. Not worrying about the constraints I have put onto myself lets me worry about the things that do actually matter.
There are just so many things I always thought will cause an apocalypse if they reached the light of day. What did I think would happen precisely? My parents would disown me, my boyfriend would leave me for a supermodel, my boss would fire me and all my co-workers would escort me out of the building laughing, no one would hire me again, such an embarrassment of a person I would become, my friends would find new friends with way better respect stats in the neighbourhood…
I swear. I am not exaggerating.
Things like this roam from time to time through the heads of many of us, and I am no different in that regard. But if I am to give in to these thoughts, I may as well lock myself in a dark room for the rest of my life, because sooner or later I am bound to pop into yet another embarrassing hobby or habit, or anything that could make me less of a desirable person… in my own eyes.
Trust me, the world does not care.
Step 4: And forgive yourself for being embarrassed, too
The last step is often forgotten and neglected, a bit like the final doses of an antibiotic that one stops taking after the first symptoms of illness disappear.
We get embarrassed of pursuing something we enjoy. We panic about it. We get over it though and we let it go. No one bats an eye, because why would they? It was all in our heads. And then the blaming commences.
I see it online a lot. People apologizing for trying to stick to the norm. People making sure they stress how different they are in every sentence they mutter. People feeling guilty of what they used to feel.
But is it not one and the same?
We bash ourselves for liking something and then we bash ourselves for bashing ourselves for liking something. That is a truly vicious circle. It leads nowhere. There can be no true recovery unless we stop looking for brand new ways to torture ourselves.
Even if we do believe we used to hurt ourselves with our stubborn embarrassment, we need to learn to forgive ourselves and leave the past behind. What is the point of feeling liberated if we are in reality chained to the same as before, just with a fancier bow on it? It may make us feel better for a while, you know, but it will be more of a slow poison kind of affair.
Now that was grim. And all I wanted to say is that I am an old cow (as my mother would put it) who still plays The Sims.
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