The fear of embarrassment could be ruining your life and you may not even know it. I first want to clarify what fear of embarrassment is and is not. The fear of embarrassment is NOT just avoiding having an embarrassing moment (I don’t think anyone wants to be embarrassed). It also is NOT just being nervous that something may go wrong. In this context, the fear of embarrassment is when you avoid certain situations such as a love interest, a job, or a presentation just because you may be embarrassed. Everyone avoids embarrassment, but when you go out of your way to avoid embarrassment, it can become an even bigger problem for you. Embarrassment is a natural part of life and is not always bad. At the moment, it can feel like the end of the world, but I promise it’s not — it will probably be a funny story to tell your friends later on.
The fear of embarrassment makes you miss out on opportunities because you are scared of being judged (I’m very guilty of this). I will say, the fear of other people’s opinions can leave you feeling paralyzed. I feel like it has become very normalized to believe that your worth is based on other people’s approval. However, it’s not — other people’s perceptions of you do not matter. Also, 99% of the time…no one actually cares. The fear of embarrassment makes you miss out on small things, but also can stop you from going after your dreams or being the real you. Embarrassment does not last forever, but avoiding it can be extremely destructive to your personal development. It may feel very intense in the moment, but understand that this is a short-lived feeling.
Sometimes the fear of embarrassment can show up in little ways such as avoiding asking or answering questions in class because you are scared that you may be wrong. Being scared of external judgment is one of the main things that stops us from reaching our full potential. This fear is irrational and could be due to the fragility of our egos. It is okay to be hesitant about trying something new, however do not let external judgment keep you in a box: wear that outfit, go out with that person, and apply for that job. Try everything you want to without the fear of being embarrassed. Making mistakes is normal and being embarrassed is okay. Be kind to yourself, and remember you are not alone.
Of course, there are certain things that I hope you do avoid, like walking in on your roommate or stranger in the bathroom or calling your professor “mom.” But, if any of those happen, remember it is not the end of the world. Do not pass up on opportunities because of your fear of embarrassment; nothing is embarrassing until you feel embarrassed. The next time you stop yourself from trying something new, ask yourself: what exactly are you afraid of?