“Time to get honest and vulnerable. Share with us an embarrassing fact, an awkward truth, something you wish didn’t happen, but did. Or tell us a failure, a time when you totally messed up, and what you learned from it. Use the opportunity to help your audience grow–and tell the story in such a way that makes us trust you. Make if funny, even amusing, if you can. Entertain us, so that we’re glad it happened to you and not us. Once you’ve got us, share a little bit of truth that could change us.”
I transferred into Southeastern University for my junior year of college. I’d already finished my Associates at community college so I was decently familiar with all expectations of classes, assignments, etc. Most universities do this really great/awkward thing where they put all the freshmen and transfer students through a bunch of informative lectures and tours, etc. Parents usually stay, but not always; mine did, but I think mostly because I was pretty petrified to live on my own for the first time.
I can’t quite remember the order of things, but at some point during this whole little circus we ended up in the gymnasium or some other large assembly place (I’m concerned at the blanks I’m drawing, but I guess it’s been five years since this moment so I’ll forgive myself) and they announced that there would be some sort of prize giveaway. We were sitting in the fifth row, roughly, with the first few rows being full of a bunch of really tall boys who I assumed must be basketball players. The student body president announced that the first girl to make it up front would get a gift card to somewhere that was literally so unmemorable to me that I can’t remember it to this day. A really quick assessment told me that I was the closest girl to the front, and without really thinking further I stood up and moved a quickly as possible to the front.
Unfortunately for me, my legs are longer than anything and the cursed, spindly thing got caught on the legs of one of the chairs in front of me. I fell flat on my butt in front of the entire transfer and freshman student body, not to mention the faculty and all the parents that were also present. It was a truly horrifying movie scripted moment.
I’m happy to report that I definitely won the gift card (whatever it was) and somehow made it back to my seat in one piece. My mom whispered something along the lines of there being so many students and that no one would know that I’m the one that fell, which was pretty comforting and got me through the remainder of the event.
As luck would have it, my life truly is some sort of terrible teen sitcom rather than a film so for the rest of the week, my roomie Jenna and I received about half a dozen guests who’s leading line was, “Aren’t you the girl the fell in front of everybody?” Lucky, lucky me.
The pro of this pretty awkward situation is that I met a lot of people on campus right away. Plus, once you’ve been embarrassed in front of a larger portion of the student body, shame departs from your normal range of emotions and this is a really important advantage to have in college when you regularly look like this:
I’m now a proud member of Team Pretty Much Never Embarrassed and I’m thankful to be here. I wouldn’t have made it without paying my dues.