I had a conversation today about embarrassment. It wasn’t an in-depth conversation, but someone was talking about their embarrassment doing something that I did without even thinking of being abashed. In fact, I’m still quite proud.

I went back to university, aged 34, to finish my honours year and get a Masters degree. Was I older than most of the people in my classes? You bet I was. But I also had a lot going for me. I had enough life experience to know what I wanted to study, and I had a daughter I was an example to.

Having a family also made my time more valuable, so if I was in class instead of putting her to bed, I was going to get as much out of that class as possible.

But it did occur to me, thinking about this conversation: I don’t embarrass as easily as I used to.

I’m trying to figure out when that change happened. When I went from wanting to blend in to not really giving a damn.

I think there was a period in high school when there was a flicker of not giving a damn, and the spark grew in college. By the time I dropped out of my first career path and went back to university there was a good bit of it – I was older, I was doing what I needed to do, I was figuring things out, I got to hang out with passionate people a lot and talk about real issues.

I got kicked around a lot between there and here, but I have had enough bad experiences to know what to fight for and what matters.

In 2011, I had a job that I loved and a boss I believed in and a great team of people around me. In 2012, my job had changed, the team had changed, and that boss had died, leaving behind a message that we must look after the future. And suddenly I decided that the time I was spending away from my daughter didn’t mean as must as I needed it to anymore, to really make it count.

And parenting.

That is a thing that will make you forget about embarrassment right there.

Dancing like a fool? If it makes her laugh, yes.

Singing in the grocery store? If it keeps her happy, absolutely.

This person that I am now, at 39, has grown out of all the experiences I have had, good and bad and worse, and here and now I make the decisions that suit me and my family and what I believe in.

I don’t give a damn what other people think because I am smart, strong, quick, passionate and I there are plenty of people who care about me and like me, so I don’t really need the ones who don’t.

 

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