I used to think that I was in humiliating situations way more than anyone else. Now, looking back, I think it was just that I was much more sensitive and self-conscious than those around me at the time.

Still, there were these happenings that were pretty darn embarrassing….

When I was five, sitting in the middle of my fellow kindergarten classmates, I felt the need to, ahem, “pass gas” coming on, so I did the only logical thing. I put my hands over my ears, closed my eyes, and let it go! I remember opening one eye to see the whole class, including the teacher, laughing hysterically.
When I was twelve, I ended up in the swim relay at summer camp. I was pretty nervous considering I was not an amazing swimmer, and also couldn’t stand anything, not even water, being in my eyes. Not planning on being in a swim relay or even getting in the pool for that matter, I didn’t bring goggles. The time came for me to do my lap. I was last in line for the relay, and our team had the last lane in the pool. I dove in and swam my little heart out. I was quite proud of my speed until someone smacked me in the head. Shaking it off, I continued on. I was pretty fit, but the swim seemed miles long. To my surprise, I smacked a couple of people in the head on my journey. Oops! Sorry! But again to my surprise, they smacked me back. Come on! Finally, I touched the edge of the pool. I stood up, wiped my eyes (they were closed the whole time since I couldn’t stand any water in them), the pool was empty. I looked straight into the face of the guy I’d been crushing all week, and worst of all, the entire camp was laughing at the girl who swam directly diagonal across the whole pool! I went back to my cabin and prayed no one would make me come out for the rest of the week. They did.
When I was sixteen, I was one of the first of my friends to have a car. It was a clunker, thank God, because this was also at the same time that I began dating my first boyfriend. I was nervously driving us both to the movies when he reached over and put his hand on my leg. Distracted, I jumped the median and proceeded to drive on top of it for its whole length, sparks flying from the back of my little white Cavalier. The car didn’t last long after that. Don’t date and drive, kids.
When I was seventeen, I made the brilliant decision to drop out of school and move out of my house all in the same first-period class one morning. Not old enough to serve alcohol, I got a job as a night shift waitress at Waffle House. I was impressed with how much money I made in tips the first week! However, my excitement didn’t last long because one morning, as I was gathering my things and heading out the door, one of the first shift waitresses stopped me and proceeded to rip me a new one. She was upset because, for the past week, I had waited my tables, cleaned them up, gathered my things, and went home. I did have the passing wonder of who they hired to clean the bathrooms, floors, windows, and things… little did I know it was me!
When I was twenty-two, I said yes to marrying someone just because I was too afraid to say no. In the middle of the engagement, I gave the ring back and said I didn’t want to marry him. But he begged me to change my mind, and I gave in. Five years of misery ensued.

Ah, good times.

I share just a few examples of my humiliation because you need to know it is one of the absolute greatest gifts I have received in life. The chance to be humiliated, survive, and receive notch after notch of boldness to live genuinely is what fuels me to do the things I love with no apologies or explanation. It’s how I am unfazed by rejection, and even glad to see it. Rejection is a sign that I’m in the game! Moreover, I love my humiliated self. It is much more approachable, and has won me great friendships.

What would you do if you weren’t afraid of what anyone thought of you? I bet the possibilities coming to mind are endless. Have you been humiliated lately? Revel in it. Feel it to the utmost extent.

And welcome yourself to your new beginning.

J.Reese Bradley