12 Apr 2017

Whenever my family goes out for all-you-can-eat sushi, my mom hides red-faced behind a menu as the rest of us fatties shout out “Twenty orders of the salmon sashimi! Forty of the surf clam! Five orders of the spicy tuna maki!” She may demurely request “just a tea for me” from the waiter but as soon as our food arrives, she’s devouring all the dishes, exemplifying our family motto of “survival of the quickest,” forcing us to order more to accommodate for her embarrassment for our lack thereof.

While I don’t understand shame when in reference to my hunger, it has recently become a familiar feeling, rearing it’s ugly head when I travel and the more I explore content creation on my Instagram and blog. It wasn’t until my trip to Morocco that I realized how much embarrassment and ego limits me, similar to how it limits my mom from ordering her OWN sushi.

After watching the sun rise into the crisp, blue skies over Kam Kam Dunes, I dragged Janelle into the frigid Saharan desert to help me take photos, trudging far enough from camp that missing breakfast was a concern in the forefront of our minds.

As I tried to pose “organically,” barefoot in my billowy, stop-sign red dress against a backdrop of golden dunes, I was seized by crippling self-consciousness and not just because she made me remove the jeans I had on underneath my dress (for warmth) because it looked “weird.” I suspect that she just wanted a private strip show.

It all just seemed so silly – pretending as if I just happened to be walking in the desert in an impractically fancy dress and she just happened to be walking by with a cumbersome digital camera. Ah fate.

Content Creation is a relatively new term that has emerged with the arrival of social media and has given a whole new layer of meaning to my identity. Unknowingly, I’ve been “creating content” my whole life, from writing and illustrating newsletters detailing the adventures of my Barbies to becoming a designer. While it has rapidly evolved to the point of becoming it’s own industry, my time-consuming penchant for blogging and meticulous curation of my Instagram feed still feels like a hedonistic hobby that I’m reluctant to own to enjoying.

As I’ve mentioned before, for a long time I denied this essential part of me that feels compelled to create, document, and share my experiences. It embarrasses me – to have to interrupt my friends to help me take pictures, that it takes away from “being in the moment,” to seem like that girl, participating so wholeheartedly in a pursuit that seems so frivolous and self-indulgent.

But what other option do I have? Either I do what makes ME happy or I let ego dictate my actions. Embarrassment is a public emotion we experience – only in relation to other people – when we violate a social standard. It confuses us by removing the focus from our true desires to how OTHERS perceive us, keeping us stuck and I refused to be limited any longer.

Back in the desert, I was so overcome by my embarrassment that I tried to counteract my discomfort by pushing myself to the edge of it and began leaping in the air, kicking up sand as I exaggeratedly extended my limbs, trying to exude the grace of a long-limbed gazelle instead of an uncoordinated corgi.

In that moment, I pushed my ego aside and committed to what I was doing in spite of my embarrassment and the result was some of my favourite photos from the trip! It made me realize just how much fear manifested from my ego was holding me back and from embracing what I truly wanted.

Satisfied that we took enough photos, we headed back to camp, ravenous and with sand in places it ought never to be. The photos we took that day will always remind me of what I learned that day:
One, that leaping makes everything better. Falling is an involuntary movement whereas a leap is a deliberate decision which is how we should aim to make every choice, especially when it involves our happiness.
Two, letting embarrassment control your life means you don't get ALL THE SUSHI.
And three, I learned that I don't jump very high....

Have you ever had an instance where embarrassment has been a roadblock in the way of getting what you really want? How did you deal with that?

ETC is the overflow of thoughts in the mind of Teri Yeung. It’s a place full of stories of travel adventures, imparted lessons learned from life’s achievements and failures, behind-the-scenes of projects and experiments, and anything else that inspires excitement and joy.

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