Edited by: Malavika Suresh
Maybe you entered your cohort’s group call with a Jungkook profile picture; maybe you accidentally misspoke your own name while introducing yourself – now you can’t get any of these moments of small embarrassment out of your head. You lie awake in bed, wondering how the rest of your college life could possibly go smoothly, if O-Week is a string of moments like these. It can be hard to stop yourself from playing your personal WatchMojo’s “Top Ten Cringiest Moments” in your head, over and over again.
Surely, no one else has ever messed up during their O-Week, at least not as bad as you have. Maybe it’s a “you” thing, you wonder — apparently the Deities of Embarrassment decided to shower upon you this extremely excruciating experience as a “boon.” You worry about how your future batchmates would perceive you, whether you will soon be known as the kid who “did that one really weird thing that one time”. It’s hard to let go. Look at everyone, you think. So poised, proper, and articulate. I bet I’m the only odd one out, right?
Well, what you’re thinking might not be so true after all. Don’t quite feel convinced? Maybe these pooled experiences of our own (anonymized) embarrassing moments might help change your mind.
“I remember when we had our Sopaan (treasure hunt event) back when we were on campus. There was a lot of running around and brainstorming involved and it involved a lot of physical activity (which I had not done since high school, might I add). I had no idea about any of the clues involved and what they meant. I was just trying to fit in and I kept running around with my cohort and acted like I knew what was going on. Eventually I was so tired that I just left the group I was with and ran into my friend on my way back to my room. We sat down at a random place and talked the whole time with people running all around us (we got a lot of weird looks). When my group passed the round I joined in on the celebration as though I had actually done something.” – Anonymous Capybara, UG’22.
This experience illustrates that it is okay to not know things on the first go. Even if you do mess up every now and then, maybe you get a funny story out of it to laugh about with your friends! Being human is a beautiful yet absurd thing, and “messing up” every now and then is a part and parcel of the many oddities associated with it.
Quite often, what makes us embarrassed and uncomfortable in these moments comes from us making “cringy” mistakes in front of other people. Maybe you find yourself worried and nervous about doing something weird on a 200 person call? Or that you would somehow switch your video on at the most inopportune of times? At times like these, it becomes important to remember that we have all faced our fair share of public embarrassment too.
“I tripped and fell in the mess line during lunch in front of two hundred people.” – Anonymous Dolphin, UG’22.
It could be that you’re spiralling about that one time your microphone wasn’t working and you sounded like a robot on a group call. Technical troubles, though out of our control, can make us feel embarrassed nonetheless. However, is it possible that some glitches can be the fun start to some amazing friendships?
“During one of our cohort game nights, I joined the call but somehow my video was working but my audio wasn’t. We were playing skribbl and during the call, I had to write down what I wanted to say on a piece of paper and show it on video to my cohort for most of the call. Afterwards, they did switch to another link where my audio was working. The good part was that I ended up making a lot of friends from my cohort who I’m still really close to, to this day!” – Anonymous Rabbit, UG’23.
Overall, all of us can agree that the feeling of embarrassment and cringing at oneself is a universally uncomfortable feeling. When felt on its own, it can feel isolating — an air of loneliness often accompanying it, as it settles into our own worries about ourselves. This is also amplified by how a lot of these feelings seem end-all, be-all. At that moment, it feels absolutely mortifying. However, when you inevitably face moments like these, it becomes important to remember the common thread that ties all of these experiences together — sharing a laugh. Laughing at your own experiences and sharing them with others can disarm this isolating stronghold that embarrassment has on you. It’s cathartic. Maybe you’re laughing at yourself, or you’re laughing with someone and bonding over your shared experiences. Either way, it’s always important to remember that you’re not alone, and yes, we’ve all been there!
Note: I wanted to thank everyone who talked about their personal experiences for this article, it wouldn’t have been possible to write this without them!