Letting Go of Embarrassment

by Katy on May 27, 2011 · 30 comments

It may seem like an odd topic from a blog about frugality, sustainability and simple living, but a huge component to achieving the aforementioned goals is to let go of being easily embarrassed. Because if you’re worried about what other people think of you, then you are highly unlikely to stick with a lifestyle that involves thrift shops, bringing your own leftover containers to restaurants and choosing a unique and self-defined lifestyle.

The Happiness Project’s Gretchen Rubin writes frequently about how she is learning to “Be Gretchen.” Which essentially is a twist on not keeping up with the Joneses. Embracing and then accepting who you are; as well as your specific interests and strengths. Also, letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be. (I live in a city full of hipster cyclists, yet I rarely unearth my own two wheeler.) When I think of what “Be Katy” means, I think about certain things, such as:

  • I love to watch makeover TV shows, even though I’m part of a community likely to brag about their TV-free status. For example, last night I stayed up packaging my eBay sales while watching back-to-back episodes of Clean House on Netflix. So yeah, I was in heaven! And yes, I can now do a mean impression of Niecy Nash.
  • I can spend hours goofing around with the Photo Booth function on the computer, making silly videos and taking goofball pictures with (and without) the kids.
  • I can talk endlessly about how little I spent on almost everything I own, even though I see that it makes peoples’ eyes glass over with boredom.
  • I cry when I watch “So You Think You Can Dance.”
  • I care so little about how I dress, that I often look like I’m about to start a painting project.
  • I’ve been known to become so overcome with the narcotic aroma of air dried clothes, that I’ve twice put my face into a garment to inhale, only to realize that I’m sniffing underwear.

It’s easy for me to tout an embarrassment-free lifestyle, when it took 43 years to get to where I am. Like all teenagers, I lived my high school years in dread of what hideous embarrassments would come next. This was easy, as I went to a performing arts high school and had to spend half my school day in a leotard standing next to girls who’d been dancing since their toddler years and as a result had never developed hips or a bust. I, on the other hand went from a B to a D cup during the summer of my sophomore year. My father was (and still is) a sock-with-Birkenstocks bearded guy, and my mother worked as a cocktail waitress in a drag queen nightclub.

Embarrassment was my middle name.

Luckily, the teen years are fleeting, and we hopefully grow into our skins, and can laugh at ourselves and really not give a damn about what others think of us.

So say it loud and proud:

“I am a Non-Consumer, (or whatever) and I don’t give rip what you think about me!”

Take pride and ownership in your life choices. They’re different than mine, but who cares, it’s your life, not mine. You do not have the power to embarrass me!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”


{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

PigPennies May 27, 2011 at 9:41 am

“…and my mother worked as a cocktail waitress in a drag queen nightclub.” – That is awesome!


Katherine May 27, 2011 at 10:35 am

this made me laugh. a lot. especially the creepy photobooth video.

ha! thanks for the laugh to kick off my weekend.

also- i just finished “the happiness project” last night. loved it!


Lisa May 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

God bless you Katy! This post came at a crucial time. Tomorrow is my high school class reunion, and Sunday is my family reunion….the old double whammy. Thanks for reminding me to be true to myself.


Queen Lucia May 27, 2011 at 10:53 am

That video cracked me up!! Sometimes I worry that I’m too worried what people think. Then I decide to stop thinking about it.


Tina (Tightwad Mom) May 27, 2011 at 11:17 am

Hilarious!!!! That is the beauty of turning 40, you really just don’t care what people think anymore!!! I hang my laundry on a clothesline tied around the canopy on my deck. I don’t care if the neighbors see my “dedicates” flapping in the breeze (and yes, I caught myself sniffing my son’s freshly laundered and air dried briefs, yesterday). Sometimes my family and friends think I am….er….crazy, but that’s okay. I’m a harmless crazy.
P.S. My white nurses clogs have sprung a hole by the pinky toe. I was very sad until I realized they are almost seven years old. Now I have to find a new pair, only they discontinued the style I love so much (which is what happens when you wear the same pair of work shoes for seven years)! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Griffin May 27, 2011 at 11:57 am

This might be my favoriate post yet!


No Debt MBA May 27, 2011 at 11:58 am

“I care so little about how I dress, that I often look like Iรขโ‚ฌโ„ขm about to start a painting project.”

I also care very little about clothing and hate shopping. Unfortunately working in an office means I have to do both if I want to be “professional”. My SO intervenes when I get too far beyond the pale ๐Ÿ˜‰


Katy May 27, 2011 at 12:07 pm

I am extremely lucky, because as a hospital nurse my work clothes are provided. Other departments have to buy their own scrubs, but I circulate in the OR and am required to have my clothes hospital style uber-cleaned.

I love it!



Liza May 27, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Kind of reminded me of watching old reruns of the “Patty Duke Show”…Katie, you are a wise ole hoot!


Jinger May 27, 2011 at 2:05 pm

And when you are edging into your 70’s, it’s really time to let go! Knowing who you are is a very good thing.


Trish May 27, 2011 at 2:06 pm

You’re so great Katy! I am thrilled to be able to see into a part of your life (Iwas gonna say cyberstalk but mebbe that’s a little creepy). I live in a rural area where the checkout lady at the butcher shop gives chirps of annoyance when I bring my own bags. The American Legion in our town of 500 had a breakfast last week, and as we went out the door to head over to it, I grabbed a couple of plates, knowin they would have disposable ones at the legion. Turns out they were styrofoam, yuck! But I bet the townspeople are still making fun of me for that.

I just want to say to them, I can’t believe you people continue to have children, grandchildren and live such an unsustainable lifestyle!


Ann May 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

You really hit the nail on the head with this one Katy!
Why does it take us decades to stop feeling any kind of embarrassment, to stop trying to conform to society’s norms?
I’ve always been the worst, but most comfortable (!), dresser of my friends. But after all these years, they’re still my friends!
And I’m better now for speaking out, asking for help, trying things and standing up for myself. I often make a fool of myself or embarrass my partner, but hey, I’m better for it.


Jill; May 27, 2011 at 4:10 pm

I admire you. It is a shame it takes most of us a 40+ years to get that comfort and ease but when it comes – its the best feeling.


Sara May 27, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Love your post. I also cry at So you think you can dance and love talking about how much money I save ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m 30 and stopped caring so much about what other people think about 5 years ago. I used to love watching What not to wear, and now when I watch it I feel kind of sad for the people whose style gets completely trashed. Long live wearing whatever you want!


Cate @ Liberal Simplicity May 27, 2011 at 7:07 pm

Embarrassment was my biggest hangup when I was considering whether or not to cease being anonymous on my blog. (Clearly, I opted for complete transparency!) I’m very young, and I kept worrying about what my high school classmates would think. I guess I thought they would find my blog trivial…I write about frugality, simple pleasures, my family. But I realized that these things AREN’T embarrassing, they’re my life, and it’s a life I’m very happy with. If other people don’t like it, that’s their problem.

A couple months ago I ran into an old friend, whom I haven’t talked to in a while aside from casual facebook interactions, and he started gushing about how much he loves my blog. I thought that was wonderful.


Susan May 28, 2011 at 1:29 am

Katy, what a wonderful post! I think I’ve turned into your dad as I’m a socks and birkie woman now…


JMACARTH May 28, 2011 at 6:40 am

Thanks for an entertaining read. So liberating to get older and feel far less embarrased (I’m 54 and each year is better! I think that we strive so much to get approval from others, even people we don’t know or like! The anxiety of embarrasment should be a red flag for our own need for the approval of others.


Paula in the UP May 28, 2011 at 7:03 am

I’ve been a “don’t really care what others think of me” for some time, my friends, family and especially my hubby love me just the way I am!


Tonya May 28, 2011 at 7:19 am

This post came at the perfect time! Thanks for being so honest and real. I had an embarassing frugality moment yesterday, and it took me a few hours to “get past it”. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for your encouragement.

Oh, and it helped me get over it when I realized the person who was commenting on my cheapness, um, I mean frugality will probably still be slaving away, pouring money at their debt in 20 years, while I will be debt-free enjoying myself as a lady of leisure!


Rebecca May 28, 2011 at 8:29 am

This is very near my heart lately. I have 2 autistic boys and a little girl who is almost 3 going on 15, attitude included. It has been a long road to just be the mom I want to and need to be, rather than worry about how everyone else seems to think I should be. They don’t live with the challenges my family has, I just have to take care of me and mine.

I spent a great deal of time growing up hearing my mom say “what will others think?” I have finally come to understand that I focus on me and my family, my relationship with my husb and my Savior, and forget the rest.


Christa May 28, 2011 at 9:33 am

Thanks for the heads up! I had no idea you could watch Clean House on Netflix now.


Jennifer May 29, 2011 at 3:54 am

This is my all time favorite blog post of yours! Love and miss you. I wish I was going to Portland this week with Gerard.


Katy May 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

I will make Gerard wear a wig and pretend he is you!




Jennifer May 29, 2011 at 3:58 am

P.S. I must show this to Emmett as he thinks I am the world’s most embarrasing Mom. I try, but I clearly have a thing or two to learn. I ‘ll have to get me a laptop with a cool camera feature like yours.


Amber @ neuronmommy.com May 29, 2011 at 4:05 am

I think I battle a different problem with my (kind of) new frugality/sustainability…I have to make sure I don’t talk non-stop about it to my friends. I just can’t help it! Who knew that vinegar could clean EVERYTHING and be used for fabric softner. Oh, the money I save (not to mention the kindness to the environment). Who knew that there were reusable produce and bulk items bags? Why create waste using silly ol’ plastic produce bags?

But, I have to refrain from “teaching” my friends. I feel that it can almost be like a religion…you are so excited and happy so you share everything, and your friends may not appreciate being proselitized to. So I am working on just living the life and if friends have questions, then I can answer them.


Carie May 29, 2011 at 5:04 am

This was a good post, timely!

Thank you!


Jessica May 30, 2011 at 5:42 am

Love this! I think we must be on the same wavelength as I recently posted about learning to “Be Jessica” and the embarrassment that being myself has caused over the years. ( http://keepbabbling.blogspot.com/2011/05/price-of-authenticity.html ) I actually haven’t reached the point where I can list all the things I love that make me unique, but I do pretty well at naturally going after what I like. Good for you that you can identify what makes you unique AND celebrate it!


Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary May 31, 2011 at 8:58 am

laughing… that video is awesome.


sudebaker May 31, 2011 at 12:21 pm

Yeah! I’m finally getting there. Be Susan! To hell with the rest of them ๐Ÿ˜‰ And you sing divinely. Is it strange that I didn’t find it creepy? It’s living up here with the rednecks, I think. When’s the album coming out?


Van June 7, 2011 at 7:51 am

That video! Hilarious! And your singing is damn good, too. You’d beat me at Karaoke for sure, but anyone can. (Anyone!)

I’m damn proud of my strange dumpster diving, trash picking, constantly doodling and picture-snapping self. Sure, it’s not the mainstream TV status quo, but I’m meeting too many kindred spirits to think our frugal behavior is -completely- abnormal.

The people who aren’t living their passion and doing what they want instead of what every or anyone else tells ’em to…these are the weirdos. Yes sir.


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