This I Believe

Lindsey - Nashville, Tennessee
Entered on September 10, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“Never be afraid to laugh at yourself. After all, you could be missing out on the joke of the century.” I have to remind myself of this quote from Dame Edna Everage every time I feel that my life is less than perfect, or whenever I have experienced something particularly humiliating, which admittedly happens more often than it should. My entire life, I have been unusually uncoordinated and accident-prone, faults that inevitably lead to frequent slip-ups and result in extreme embarrassment. After fifteen and three-quarter years of mortifying moments, I have finally learned that the only way of dealing with this embarrassment is by laughing at myself. It has taken me awhile to realize, but this I believe: there are few things in life worse than a person who takes himself too seriously.

I have learned this lesson in the only way a lesson can be learned: through experience. The earliest embarrassing moment I can recall occurred when I was in kindergarten. For reasons I can no longer fathom, I convinced my parents to sign me up for the school talent show. I remember that at this age, it was my dream to become a famous country music singer. Perhaps I thought this talent show would be my big break. In any case, I decided that for my act, I would sing along to one of my favorite songs, the name of which escapes me. The night of the show finally arrived in a flurry of excitement. As soon as I got on the stage, however, I immediately regretted my decision. There were perhaps a hundred people in the audience, but from my four-year-old point of view, there might as well have been a million. The song started, and I immediately forgot the lyrics. I stood frozen on the stage, holding up the microphone, never once opening my mouth. After an eternity, the song finally ended, and without waiting for the smattering of polite applause that followed my “performance”, I ran from the stage in humiliation. I have still not forgotten this experience, so intense was my embarrassment. At four years old, I obviously had not yet learned not to take myself too seriously. Now, however, I am able to look back fondly at this event and laugh at it.

These types of incidents are not only stories to laugh with my friends about; they have also taught me several important life lessons. The most important thing I have learned is that in order to deal with these experiences, I just have to take what comes at me, roll with the punches, and move on. I can’t go back and undo them, and frankly, I don’t know that I would want to. It is these events that give me perspective and teach me that there are worse things in life than momentary embarrassment. But I’m still never setting foot in my elementary school auditorium again.