On Embarrasment: Embarrasment = Anxiety (social)

Embarrassment is a funny thing. The kind of anxiety I suffer intermittently is really fear of embarrassment. In fact it is the feeling of embarrassment.

From a physiological perspective anxiety and embarrassment are indistinguishable. They both have the sensation that is called “butterflies in the belly”. They both cause hot flushes. They both cause speech slips, stutters and awkward silences.

It’s strange that they are so similar because it means that the fear of embarrassment puts you in an embarrassed state before the situation about which you have the fear arises. The annoying thing is that the way you feel before entering into a social situation is the way you fear you will feel because of embarrassment. It’s like you have already been punished.

Like your parents say “If you eat this sweet then we will smack you” then smack you repeatedly whether or not you eat the sweet. The annoying thing is that you’d have thought that in such a situation it would be easy to reach out and take the sweet but no! Even though you know you will feel the same whether or not you eat the sweet (or say something to a girl you are attracted to) you still experience fear at the thought of reaching out and trying to get the sweet. It’s STUPID!!!

And the things we get embarrassed about! The most common example being asking a girl out. It’s a totally natural and normal thing for a man to find a woman attractive and everyone knows this but there is the feeling that you can’t just go up to a woman and say “Hey you’re beautiful! If you think I’m passable then we could go out and see if we like each other’s personalities”. Instead – or so it seems to me – there has to be this whole act of mis-direction and subterfuge where you can’t state the bleeding obvious.


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