Luckey Charms: It Ain't Easy Being Perfect

Will Luckey

Columnist

It was the first day of first grade–a pretty big deal in a kid’s life. I got to ride the bus with the older kids, school lasted the whole day, girls started developing sets of adult teeth, and we got to use the big playground at recess. I was feeling really legit with my new pencil case packed tight with fresh number twos and a couple of glue sticks. I was pumped to learn subtraction, get high on paste in art class, run train on four square, and maybe chat up some second grade chicks on the bus ride home.

Well, it did not go down like that. Instead, I threw up all over my desk like a moron. I was sitting right next to Halle, who was a total 10. She looked at me as if I had just thrown a box of puppies off a bridge or something. I ran out of the room but I still had time to hear the entire class dying of laughter. I thought it was complete social suicide. That’s the first memory I have of being truly humiliated. I wanted to run away and never come back, but in the end it wasn’t that bad. Some jerks obviously made jokes the next day, but they were, what, like six years old? That basically meant just calling me “puke-boy” or something. On the whole, people just thought it was funny and moved on.

Fun fact: my first few days at college were also tainted with an oddly similar incident, but I got over that one too.

The trick is to learn to laugh at yourself and take your humiliations gracefully. You just have to acknowledge that everyone does stupid things sometimes and is going to look like an idiot. St. Francis had a theory that everyone needs to experience three daily humiliations as a way of keeping their ego in check.

For example, this morning when I left my dorm, the ground was wet, and I slipped right next to a bunch of football players. Later in class, I spilled my coffee everywhere, and then in the library my headphones came unplugged so everyone in the East Reading Room knew I had been blasting Katy Perry. Whatever, she’s catchy.

By looking out for little moments throughout the day, when you slip up and make a fool of yourself, it becomes much easier to stay grounded. You will realize you’re not all that, but neither is anyone else. More significantly, it becomes much easier to reserve judgment for other people’s humiliations and to actually feel empathy for them. Our society loves to gossip about those who embarrass themselves, but I think if we paid more attention to our own embarrassments it would be harder to mock the shame of others.

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