The Realistic Fear of Being Awkward in Public


Growing up in a relatively small Baptist church, I know that overwhelming feeling of awkwardness I would get during at least one Sunday a month when the “special music” (the solo) is sung by someone who causes a deacon to utter “bless ‘em Lord” instead of “Amen!”. The kind of soloist that makes you look around for Simon Cowell to save the day. The kind of song that has a weird flute solo after the 2nd verse, and painfully ends with nothing but music for a full minute after the singing part is finished, leaving the soloist to either engage in a staring contest with the congregation or recite a somewhat related Bible verse to fill the gap.

I think I was scarred psychologically from it. My hands would always start shaking and my sister would have to whisper/shout for me to stop before I realized I was beginning to make a scene. It is very, very difficult for me to deal with situations like that.  Recently watching Clint Black auctioning jewelry on The Apprentice on Sunday gave me a fresh image of this kind of awfulness.

Maybe I’m just too empathetic. Maybe more than the average person, I too easily put myself in other people’s shoes. Maybe the reason this situation makes me so nervous is that I have a hidden fear of being in front of people with nothing to say or do. Many people have this nightmare that they are naked in public. But it’s the fear of public awkwardness that terrifies me.

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