Embarrassment – Amber Rose Cowie

Embarrassment. I’m not even particularly sure that it counts as a base emotion. Regardless, it has been the fundamental feeling that has driven and hindered my decisions and experiences throughout my life.

Like this, this is an embarrassing act. Even if this trivial piece of writing remains unseen, the act of ‘trying’ produces a nasty dialogue around the sadness of my attempt to create something of worth. I am vaguely certain a mean gang of teenage girls has compromised my mind.

Brittney: Oh my God, she’s trying to write again… 

Mimi: I bet she thinks she’s not too bad. It will probably be something depressing and narcissistic that no one gives a shit about. Uuurg.

Jessica: I vote she just hides in a hole until she disintegrates.

As a child, I remembered the intensity of the feeling. The agony of wanting to dissipate into tiny particles rather than experience the burning shame of my actions. It was physical; heat, redness, inappropriate anger that energetically stomped on any desires I’d had to appear self-composed.

The first clear memory I have of intense embarrassment involves a Miss Summer pageant, age 7. It was a fundraising event for my dance studio and participation was mandatory. Certain incidences occurred that night that stirred my life long hankering to live in a cave.

One involved a grown man re-enacting my walk down the ramp for comedic value. His shoulders hunched to his ears, eyes glued to the ground. In this tutorial of what not to do, he had amassed quite a substantial group of my peers. He was a stage dad, with all the eccentricities.

I was too young to register that he was just a weirdo, and instead, felt humiliated.

The experiences I’ve had are externally not all that notable: bad pieces of work, shitty performances, and painfully awkward conversations, nothing that garnered much fuss. Yet internally, the highlight reel flickers away.

It always is a very good show, the prime bits of my inadequacy garnished with garish laughter and excessive pointing, a distorted sitcom of sorts. My actions are accentuated to appear deformed, the lighting: always fluorescent, the score: ominous.

The whole thing is self-absorbed, stewing in an idiotic emotion. I remind myself of real gritty hardship that takes tangible forms, that what I experience is for the most part fictional, malleable. Yet, I am unwillingly susceptible to the words of a world full of humans. How loathsome.

Thankfully, over time my feelings have numbed from general wear and internal reasoning. Despite this and the insignificance of these little moments that will ultimately seep from my memory, the experience of sharing anything I have created still has a particularly 7-year-old summer pageant horror to it.


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