Riding the Self-Shame Train

Hi can I make a reservation? Pity-party of one.

Let me be perfectly clear, I do not make a habit out of feeling sorry for myself. Or at least I try not to. The way I look at it, if I spent time and energy feeling sorry for myself every time I did something stupid, I would be the human equivalent of a raccoon- prowling the night for junk (food), dark circles under my eyes, and hissing at anyone who tries to come any closer than 3 feet of me. Ok so maybe I do posses some of these attributes, but trust me, there’s a fine line between self-deprecation and self-dolefulness, and every so often I tow that line harder than I brake while trying to eat my morning bagel.

But like every other person on this planet, there are days where it’s just easier to relish in unadulterated self-shame. Sometimes all you (I) want to do is purchase a one-way ticket to frown town and feel sorry for yourself (myself).

There was one day in particular that I remember feeling this way. I had a long day at work followed by an appointment at Apple to get my phone fixed. My phone had fallen victim to the now notorious “IOS-lowing” that supposedly would be fixed by a battery replacement (I’m still skeptical). I hadn’t planned on taking advantage of the discounted batteries being offered in lieu of public outrage, but my phone was becoming increasingly more glitchy than I am after my fifth cup of coffee. At one point, my maps app literally thought I was fifty feet out in the Hudson river on a trip to NY (and yes I realize NY is a grid but yours truly got lost in an alley of art galleries in Chelsea and needed an app. I’m not proud of it).

Upon arrival at the Apple store, I was told that the repair time would be close to three hours, which translates to me having to kill three hours at the local mall. I wasn’t thrilled about spending money just to be able to get my phone working properly lest I get lost again (which is simultaneously probable and embarrassing), and I was even less thrilled to have to spend the time waiting in a crock pot of hormonal tweens, disenchanted parents, and mall couples (the kind of couple that thinks a fun Friday night is spent perusing mall shops and slurping on fro-yo, ick). It was the perfect mixture for ensuring myself a spot in pity city.

First stop? Target to purchase an over-sized sweatshirt and scarf to mask my misery. As I browsed the fluorescent aisles of one of my usual happy places, I couldn’t help but dig deeper into my rut. I cursed at flowery blouses, I sneered at glitzy earrings, and I absolutely ignored the employees dutifully asking “can I help you miss?” Probably not considering I can’t even help myself.

I sulked my way through the mall feeling utterly lousy and it was fine by me. I wrapped my scarf around my neck, hid my face from everyone, and sipped my extra large Diet Coke dejectedly. I was one pair of sunglasses short of looking like the female Unabomber. Right when I was checking my phone- just kidding I had forgotten I was without my lifeline– my watch that I somehow managed to remember to wear, I saw her. A young, 30-something-year-old Jane Fonda type woman sitting outside some store on crutches, because this fox of a woman only had one leg. Dammit. Here I was being pissy about relatively minor mishaps, and I suddenly felt as though I did not have a leg to stand on.

It was if the universe decided to back hand me and say “you’re a colossal idiot right now and I want you to know it”. And I felt it hard.

Did I change my attitude right then and there? Of course not. However, I did do a little reflecting on why I happened to see that particular woman at that particular moment on that particular day. You get the point, I realized that I needed a little reality check and I got it.

It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself and have those days where you want to just say “screw it” and stew in misery, I mean we’re all human. Those days are completely necessary to be honest. But at the end of the day, sometimes you need a one-legged fashionista to remind you that it could be worse and you can do better for yourself.

I hate to break from this ever-so-endearing moment, but I need to return to Apple to get a new phone charger. Wish me luck.


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