Deb Rachel Is Proud to Be Embarrassed

2012 Debutante Rachel BertscheI’ve often said that the things we are most embarrassed to admit are the things we should write about. Like my celebrity-bra-strap fiasco. Or, more significantly, my whole “I need new friends thing.” I’ve learned that the embarrassing moments are often the ones readers relate to best, because they’ve been there, they can feel your pain. And sometimes, more often than you’d think, they are feeling the same thing, and are also too embarrassed to admit it.

And those things I thought I’d be too embarrassed to say aloud are now the things I am most proud of. Again, like the whole “I have no friends” thing. I thought about writing that book for years before I could bring myself to say it out loud. I didn’t want to sound like a lonely loser, after all.

But the opposite is also true. The things I was once most proud to write are now some of the most embarrassing. Like a short story I wrote in 6th grade, that my mom recently found in storage and for some reason decided to re-introduce into my life. Much like Deb Molly’s childhood poetry, I thought my way with words was, like, totally deep. And so, clearly, I thought it the best use of my 11-year-old brain to write a story about a father who finds out he got AIDS from a blood transfusion.

Oh, 11-year-old Rachel, the things you think you know because you watched a movie in health class.

Of course, someone out there could write a compelling story about this family I created and the tragedy that unfolded. That person was not me. And all I could think when my mother handed me the story, simply saying, “You wrote this?!?” as she turned over the paper, was nice old Mrs. Kerner and what she must have thought.

There was also the poem I read ALOUD AT 5th GRADE PARENT’S DAY because I was just so proud. (Deb Molly, remember how you knew enough to keep your poetry private? If only…) It was called “Almost Perfect, But Not Quite.” And the final line read, ahem, “it’s like getting a 99 on a test. Almost perfect but not quite.”

What’s funniest is I remember being so proud of these works of literary genius. It’s kind of a curious thing–how our one-time proudest moments can become, in retrospect, some of our most embarrassing. And our most embarrassing moments can emerge as some of the most transformative. Huh.

What do you think? Does this theory hold water? And do you agree with me that often the things we’re most embarrassed to admit are the very things we should be writing about?

3 Replies to “Deb Rachel Is Proud to Be Embarrassed”

  1. I love (now) that I was a dorky, awkward kid – where else would I get material for my books? The more embarrassing, the better, I say, because we lived through it and can now share with others who will (hopefully) relate and laugh along with us.

  2. As I’ve gone on about before, I specifically chucked all my journals for this very reason. My heart couldn’t take rereading them–so if *I* couldn’t reread them, what would my beloved husband and children think if they stumbled upon them in our closet?

    But of course, they would have been good for many laughs. So there was that;)

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