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From Embarrassment to Empowerment

By Michelle Borel

‘Dis chile peed herself!’ It felt as if that line echoed and got louder each time it looped in my head. It seemed harsh, but it was the reality of what just happened before I made that long shameful walk home in borrowed bright yellow pants from an elder in the neighbourhood.

My mother who is often described as what we would say as ‘having no cover for her mouth’ repeated the same line each time we passed someone on that walk, which started as embarrassing and ended as an empowering milestone in my life. After the third or fourth person we passed, I began to own my story.

My tears and pleas for my mother to stop retelling the scenario transformed into me giggling and wanting to now share it on my own.

My 14-year-old self was in Sunday evening service and did not want to move, as the blessed sacrament was passing around. I knew I needed to use the restroom but thought I would be able to wait.

However, when an opening presented itself, I ran to the side of the church and started waving to the acolyte to open the door to the restroom. For nothing, would he look in my direction.

When I could no longer dance in the spot with ease, I got the idea to run to Ms Lena’s house, but the tinkle won the race and I had to call my mother from Ms Lena’s home phone to walk over for me, as I dared not walk alone looking like my own version of big bird in the jeans I was loaned.

I have since had countless shameful moments, which have allowed me to uncover some beautiful lessons, which may serve as a reminder for you:

· Connection – Sharing these faux pas have allowed me to connect with others through them. It reminds me and others that I am human.

· Laughter – It serves as laughter and great storytelling. Being more comfortable in your own skin, allows you to laugh at such occasions sooner, rather than later.

· Preparation – Every moment prepares you for what lies ahead. We get better with each challenge and as Steve Jobs said, “It is in looking back that you are able to connect the dots.”

· Ownership – Own it! Every aspect of your life and character. There is perfection in imperfection.

· Share – Sometimes in life we cry tears to save someone else from crying them. While the story may be yours, please share. You never know who it may help by you sharing.

Your embarrassment can become a vehicle of empowerment for yourself and others. Whether it be losing your job, a failed marriage, a misunderstanding with another, a medical condition, something clumsy or even dealing with some other situation that we usually try to hide in fear of ‘what would people think’ gracefully take the lesson.

Speaking of what people think, some may think, ‘Urinating yourself at 14 does not compare to the other scenarios listed.’ Well, here is the thing, it is not about comparison.

Additionally, I have at some point in my life had to face several of those incidents listed above. There is no bigger than or lesser than. We are not measuring the degrees of embarrassment. Simply stating – embarrassment.

Claiming that it is time to (as Eminem did in 8 Mile) know it and own it. That is empowering!