A Week’s Worth of Journaling Prompts: Embarrasing Moments

by Amber Lea Starfire on July 1, 2013

EmbarrassedSuddenly realizing you’re naked while at school or work is a nightmare almost everyone has experienced.

What if it really happened?

Imagine recess on a clear, spring day in northern California, children running and playing in a schoolyard, shouting, kicking balls, and swarming the play structures. There I was, five years old, at the top of the slide wearing my favorite cotton dress, ready to dare a head-first run.

Down I went. Wheee! Except, when I got to the bottom and stood up, my dress was still at the top of the slide, caught on a nail and waving in the breeze like laundry hung out to dry. I looked down to see nothing but panties, socks, and shoes. Oh, the laughter!

I ran to the school office where the secretary, giggling behind her hand, called my mother to bring more clothes to me.

Looking back, the incident is funny, even cute. But then! Trauma. I’m sure that’s why I have remembered it so clearly, and why it still ranks as one of the most embarrassing moments of my life, even though, in retrospect, it was no big deal.

The question, “What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?” can be the start of a fun conversation with friends, a contest in which we one-up each other for the funniest story. And it is, in retrospect, usually funny—that is, if we have enough time and distance from the event to get some perspective. Yet, if we think about it, what embarrasses us (embarrassment being shame’s close cousin) can reveal a lot about ourselves and our world views.

This Week’s Journaling Prompts:

  1. What’s your most embarrassing moment? Write what happened in two or three paragraphs. Answer four of the five W’s: Who, What, Where, and When. We’ll get to the Why in other questions.
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  2. What was it about that event that made it so embarrassing? Dig a little into your emotions in that moment: who’s opinion most mattered to you?
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  3. What were some of the underlying influences to your sense of embarrassment? Consider social and cultural norms, upbringing, and personal relationships.
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  4. Was your embarrassment private or public? If you had been in a different situation, would you have been just as embarrassed?
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  5. What do you think about that event now? Do you still get embarrassed or shamed when you think about it? If so, what would you have changed if you could?
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  6. Think about a more recent embarrassing moment. What happened, and how did you handle it?
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  7. What is your response to being embarrassed? Do you hide (cover your face or leave), or do you put on a brave face and pretend it doesn’t matter? How does your response serve you, and how does it not serve you?

Bonus prompt: When you are in the presence of someone, other than yourself, who feels embarrassed, how do you handle the situation? What do you say or do?

After you’ve responded to some, or all, of this week’s prompts, review your writing and consider: what stands out that you didn’t realize before? And how can can this self-knowledge help you in the future?

As always, I invite you to share your thoughts on this topic by leaving a comment.

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Photo by Matthew Loberg

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

patsy ann taylor July 2, 2013 at 9:35 am

Not a dream: We were rehearsing for a school event, in full costume, and the girls were using our classroom to change. The boys had used a room down the hall and now stood outside banging on the door to be let in. I wasn’t completely naked, just stripped down to my slip, but I might as well have been. The teacher let the boys into the room before I was dressed.
At age eleven nothing could have been worse. Every boy in my grade teased me as I walked home for lunch.
I told my mother what had happened and begged to stay home from school. Forever. Or at least the rest of the afternoon.
My no nonsense Mother refused to let me stay home, instead insisted I return after lunch.
Being forced to face my embarrassment taught me two things. First that my mother believed fight trumped flight and second that being embarrassed would not ruin my life. At least not for long.

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Amber Lea Starfire July 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Patsy, you’ve definitely got me beat on the naked at school story. Middle-school-aged kids are the most cruel, and you’re most sensitive at that age. And what a lesson! Thanks for sharing :-)

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