Crashing Parties, Crushing Pedestals


January 4, 2009 by Jen

I love random and awkward life lessons.

One of my friends, who shares my love of dancing, recently heard about a dance that was much closer to home than weekend dances tend to be. When she arrived, she was surprised to find that the boy at the door was not charging an admission fee. 
Once inside, she noticed that the decorations were homemade and personalized. And that 90% of the dancers were in high school or younger. And that an entourage of mothers was setting out snacks. And that people were talking about “being invited,” not “deciding to come.”
It took only a few more minutes for my friend to realize that the event was, in fact, a private party. After reflecting on the embarrassment she must have felt, enhanced by the fact that many of the people at the party knew her family, I started thinking.
Mark Twain once said, “Man is the only animal that blushes – or needs to.” 
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the concept of shame is inherently bad; however, when imperfection is only permissable in private, we have a problem.
Sometimes it’s easier to recover from embarrassment and guilt when we are surrounded by strangers. Why? Shouldn’t shared experiences bring people closer, give them greater empathy? Maybe. But like many people, I hate showing weakness in front of people I know. Why blog (see this post) or spill to strangers on airplanes? The impression of simultaneous intimacy and distance is attractive to us, especially when we feel vulnerable or inferior.
Perpetual weakness, or even the appearance of it, is no fun. Just ask someone with idiopathic craniofacial erythema. But avoiding vulnerability is not the answer. There is a place for showing the people who know us that we too are flawed. After all, without gaffes, bad hair days, and tongue-tied moments, human relationships would have much higher pressure, very little honesty, and much less healthy laughter. 
Even if that means crashing a few high school dance parties in the process.
Postscript: I also love pretending that the awkward life lessons that I stumble into happened to someone else. But in light of the still-wet paint of the second-hand New Years’ resolutions I have inhaled, I have to admit that I was a participant in the above-mentioned gaffe. *Cue blushing.* So now you know. Hate to burst your bubble, but I’m not perfect either. 🙂

2 thoughts on “Crashing Parties, Crushing Pedestals

  1. Kristen G says:

    Do you not think that shame is inherently bad? Because isn’t shame a response to other people seeing your flaws or mistakes, as opposed to guilt or a sense that you have done or are something which is inherently wrong? In other words, what holy purpose does shame give? Guilt leads us to repentance. Shame leads us to hiding. Help me out… where’s the holiness in shame?But, so that I put my own embarrassment out there, this morning, I stepped off my front porch onto a solid sheet of black ice, both feet flew up in front of me, and I did a solid tail-o wham-o, with witnesses. 🙂 niiiice.

  2. Jen says:

    I wrote out a response, but the computer deleted it; since I don’t feel like retyping, we should chat about the concept sometime.Merci pour vos pensees!

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