Why Embarrassing Memories are Blessings in Disguise

Every month we invite our readers to pitch us articles on a theme revealed in our regular newsletter. Find out what our next theme is by subscribing to our newsletter below. This month’s theme was ‘memory’, Cat Thompson shared why embarrassing memories are actually blessings in disguise

Memories make us who we are. The bad ones can serve as life lessons, or survival tactics if you will, to help us navigate life’s obstacles.

Besides, if there’s anything decades of red-carpet gaffes have taught us it’s that getting back up after a fall or resurfacing after a wardrobe malfunction is a recipe for total respect. And I’d like to think me returning to my yoga class after trumping in the downward dog was the same deal. Total. Respect. It’s just a shame I’ll never find out.

Nevertheless, I have plenty of cringeworthy memories I’m willing to share to demonstrate how our ‘fails’ are all part of being human. You’re welcome.

Cocktail fail

They say imposter syndrome is part of any new job, although in this scenario self-doubt was definitely not the problem. I just didn’t know my Sex on the Beach from my, well… cocktails and, more importantly, my mint from my coriander. At least the customer was kind enough to pretend everything was normal, thanking me for the curried mojito with a not unhesitant smile. When an eagle-eyed barman pointed out my botanical blunder, I dutifully blurted out my mistake in front of the customer’s extended family, red-faced, like the honourable, stiff-upper-lipped Brit I am.

Thankfully, I’m now well-versed in herbivory although no longer a barwoman.

No-poo faux pas

My no shampoo – or no-poo – phase was technically as close to embracing human nature as one can get. But when working as a waitress in an unnaturally hot kitchen, it isn’t the best idea to use cocoa powder as an alternative. As brown sweat inevitably began trickling down my white shirt in spectacularly sticky fashion, uncomfortable glances ensued. It wasn’t until halfway through my shift I realised I looked like Stig of the Dump covered in… well, dump.

Lesson? We all have days when we look like crap – literally in my case. And it’s really fine. That said, shampoo does help.

Coming unstuck

When I started my job at a newspaper, I made the rookie error of not memorising my phone number. I made my first call to Someone Important and left a message, portentously spouting corporate jargon, until it came to leaving my number. I panicked and began squeaking ‘hold on, sorry I’m new etc, etc’, dead air spooling into the ether, until I eventually found it. On hanging up, my editor, aka the sage, advised: ‘write it on a post-it note’.

Don’t panic, solutions are often right in front of you (except when they’re not).

Keep calm and carriage on

Once, I was using the train loo (whose button operated system frankly needed to be more obvious) when, mid-wee, the door began slowly sliding opentriggering a fight or just-sit-there-until-the-other-passenger-clocks-me-and-dutifully-closes-the-door-again response. I chose the former, waddling over to the button panel half-naked, while the man observed me in horror.

Looking back, I believe my actions were anything other than nonchalant under the circumstances – Tweety Pie pants notwithstanding.

In hindsight (no pun intended), I like to think of these only mildly humiliating memories as character building exercises. It’s true that what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger – and I don’t just mean my pelvic floor muscles (shout out to them by the way).

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