Living Without Embarrassment

Our three-year daughter Aracelli sings, dances, and shouts without embarrassment, like no one is watching. At a recent concert, all of those were on display.

Living Without Embarrassment

We recently took Aracelli to her first concert. She danced like it was a private event, just for her. No embarrassment. No wondering whose watchful eyes were judging her. No fear of pointing fingers or snickering voices.

She sang at the top of her lungs, sometimes when the music wasn’t playing. She shouted in response to the artists. She felt no shame.

I Do! I Do! I Do!

At one point in the show, they spoke of the need to support adoption. A speaker told the story of his own adoption and how later in life his family adopted a beautiful little girl from China.

The emotions bubbled up inside of me and I knew what I was supposed to do. I could feel a battle raging inside of me. I knew where this was going. He was going to ask people interested in helping to stand up — in front of everyone.

Couldn’t we just go home later and get on the internet and give them some money? Couldn’t we do this the easy way? Then he asked the question, “Who wants to help these children?”

That’s when it happened…Aracelli shouted, “I DO!” And I was doomed. I had no choice but to stand with this little girl who has a heart of gold.

She feels no shame. I think all eyes are on me.

She sings because it makes her happy. I don’t because I hate the way I sing.

She dances because that’s just what you do when music plays. I stand still because…

Because of What?

Because I am embarrassed. Ashamed. Self-conscious.

All things that Aracelli hasn’t learned yet.

Singing comes naturally to her. Dancing is just what you do. Shouting is how you communicate in a noisy concert.

Embarrassment is something we learn.

One day she may learn to be embarrassed. Her friends may show her how to shy away from attention or potentially looking foolish. But my hope and my prayer is that she chooses not to act on that knowledge. Just because you learn something doesn’t mean you have to put it into practice.

What are You Afraid of?

All of the greats throughout history were ridiculed for something. Every great scientist, every great inventor, and every great artist had to overcome being labeled a quack, a weirdo, or worse.

Others tried their best to ridicule them into conformity, force them to comply with their norms, or talk them out of their dreams. People will do the same with you.

And when they do, remember they only do so because they let someone else do it to them. They didn’t live out their dreams, so they can’t let you live out yours. They will shame you, embarrass you, tease you, and haunt you.

But if you want to be one of the greats, if you want to live out your calling, and live a life of passion, you have to overcome those voices. You have to reclaim your authentic self, the you before you worried about the naysayers, the haters, and the finger-pointers. The you before you thought twice about dancing, singing, or shouting. The you who you were born to be.

Ask yourself: What am I afraid of? Name it.

That fear you just named is what forced you into the shadows. It shamed you into the corner, far away from your dreams and far away from the life you were meant to live.

You have a gift that the world needs. Don’t hide it anymore. Don’t let fear or embarrassment or anyone or anything hold you back from sharing it with the world.

Dance freely.

Sing with joy.

Shout when your heart says “shout.”

The world will thank you for it.

Question: What has embarrassment kept you from doing? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Steve Daniel

    The bible talks about coming to God as a little child. That in my opinion, is not just because of the faith they have, but because of their amnesia. What happened 5 minutes ago is forgotten. They don’t carry the guilt and shame of something they did last week with them unless adults continue to bring it up. They are quick to forget failures, anger, fights and even quicker to enjoy the life that is there before them.
    When we wait for the right time, or for the right circumstances to arrive before we set out, we many times, never begin the journey that is our destiny. We never step into those things that bring us happiness and even fulfillment. I think we should all do something that we know is the right thing to do, whether it embarrasses us or not every chance we get. That little moment in time that Drew Dudley calls “lollipop moments” can mean so little to you, but mean so much to those that are on the receiving end. Stepping out to do what we know we should, will change your life, and if not yours, someone else’s life that is watching you.

    • Interesting we hit on the same reference there! You make a great point, too, Steve – the ability to forget is a most attractive feature of children that we must strive to emulate.

  • Struggle with this one every day, Matt. As human beings we learn to respond in a very vulnerable way towards criticism.

    I think that one way we become more resistant to this “conditioning” is by refusing to indulge in needless criticism of others. In fact, I wrote about this today:

    If you look at highly successful people, they are often what we might call “thick-skinned” individuals, who have cultivated [or perhaps were born with?] a high degree of indifference to what others think of them. Some might call it arrogance, but there is a way to act in an authentic, unembarrassed fashion, while still retaining a healthy respect for the views of others.

    Brilliant post and a great reminder to “become as this little child” [Matthew 18]

  • I think embarrassment has reduced my leap of faith experiences into the mission field. I’m afraid to fail, and I’m afraid of what others will think when/if I fail.

    • You know what they’ll THINK? They’ll admire you for trying. Might not be what they SAY but they’ll wish they could be more like you.

  • One of the greatest struggles of my life has not necessarily been the situations surrounding my lack of a left hand. My greatest struggle came when my kids were in elementary school. You may be saying how is that? I remember taking my now 18 year old son to kindergarten for the first time and though he was excited I was somewhat concerned. Not for me but for what he may endure having a dad that every kid stopped what they were doing to look at. I know this sounds silly and may come across somewhat difficult to understand but allow me to express my emotions at a time like this in my life. I had overcome my so-called “limitation.” I had dealt with it long before this but that didn’t stop me from remembering what it felt like to be ridiculed by kids when I was in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd grade and I didn’t want my kids to have to deal with something that wasn’t even their concern or condition.

    I noticed I was embarrassed that they would be embarrassed! But what I discovered was totally different than what I imagined. Sure the kids asked them questions – “where is your dads hand?” and “did a shark bite it off?” But I will never forget one day being at a field trip with one of my kids when another child asked them – What happened to your dad’s arm and they replied – He was born that way but he can do anything!! Now you got to know this made me feel like a million bucks but what followed was even better. A few minutes later I noticed a bunch of kids running around with one arm up their sleeves having a blast. My embarrassment that my kids would be embarrassed may have caused me to shrink back for a bit but that day I discovered it was unfounded and something that I had built up in my mind.

    We are often limited by philosophies and concepts that are instilled by fear and emotions we can overcome if we are willing to face them. Just a few thoughts Matt! Greatly enjoyed the post.

    • Wow Darin! You should share that story more. POWERFUL!

      But why was your son 18 when you took him to kindergarten?

      • LOL Well he has struggled! LOL I hear a Mitch Hedberg joke in there somewhere!

        Thanks Matt. Maybe I will put it out there on my blog one day.