Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Definitions and Memories

Last night I was given the (optional) task by my counselor to writing about the topic of feeling like nothing. Vague, broad, and open to my interpretation. So I've been musing over what feelings I associate with the times I have felt like nothing. The words that come to mind first are embarrassed, ashamed, humiliated, and rejected. Not fun words.

I like to be correct in my language usage. Well, most of the time, anyway. I like to use the exact right word, and I have been known to use a thesaurus while writing in my private journal so that I could be very precise with expressing how I felt. I realized that while we often will ask people to share a time they were embarrassed, we don't usually ask for a story about when someone was humiliated. I decided to look up the definitions to see what nuanced differences there were.

According to dictionary.com, "embarrass" has a few meanings, the one I think most common is "to make uncomfortably self-conscious." "Humiliate" means "to cause (a person) a painful loss of pride, self-respect, or  dignity."

Whenever I'm asked to recount an embarrassing story, I struggle to remember something. It's not that I haven't been embarrassed, it's just that in the grand scheme of things, they don't stick out. However, I can remember in painful detail times when I felt humiliated. I don't mind the times I've blurted out stupid things or when a friend teases me and I know they're only teasing. I don't even mind the time I threw up all over the floor in college in front of someone right outside our classroom. People understand that. People understand that sometimes things aren't in your control. The things that hurt? It's the times when I felt people were judging me and finding me "less-than." It's those times, when you feel like people are laughing behind your back, when people look down on you, that are the ones that you remember. And you remember the feelings that go with it.

I don't really have a point to this, I guess. Just thinking about how it's the things where you felt strong emotions that you remember the most. Unfortunately for me, it tends to be the negative emotional events that I remember with more frequency than the positive things. So I make it a point to remind myself about the people who care about me, about the nights when I'm up late with friends laughing so hard I can't breathe. At this point in my life, I've reached a period of stability. Now I want to work on those deep, icky things that were too hard to work on when just everyday stuff felt hard. It's not fun to dredge through that stuff, but I think it's really important to deal with your baggage so that it doesn't follow you around your whole life.