Sunday, 27 November 2011
By Tom Zuniga
So I’ve been blogging here for three months and have only written two “Struggle Sunday” posts. Just goes to show how hard it is to write about the tough stuff — topics I do regularly want to examine. So if it’s been several Sundays without a struggler post, feel free to nudge me on the shoulder and say, “Hey, you need to bare/bear your messed up, struggling soul on your blog again. Thanks.”
So, shame on me for not writing this post sooner. Oh, and hey, what a great segue for this Struggle Sunday post on shame.
Last Struggle Sunday, I wrote about my fear of man — specifically, how such a struggle constantly flared up throughout my various public speaking responsibilities with YouthWorks this past summer.
Well, shame ties right into my fear of man, and it’s safe to say shame and I have been chummy bedfellows for quite a while — for many various reasons.
I used to abhor the introverted facet about myself. But being introverted ties quite nicely into being a writer, and for the most part, I’m okay with it now. I greatly enjoy journaling and running and blogging and countless other recharging activities done by myself, and I wouldn’t trade away these particular hobbies and passions for anything.
But while I’m fine being the quieter guy who needs plenty of space and me-time for my me-hobbies and me-passions, I’m often ashamed I don’t stick myself out “there” enough for others. Do I even matter to them? My introversion-based timidity convinces me I’m a lesser friend — a lesser person, even.
Paul Angone recently wrote a fantastic post on acne, which I mentioned and quoted in my fear of man post; I’ll elaborate more here.
For the longest time I bore much shame over my physical appearance. Acne will do that to a kid — especially the quieter, introverted ones. As a naturally quiet person, I was already not one to talk much; wearing an acne mask, I was especially going to find shame in speaking up and being noticed.
The combination of my introversion and acne led to a vicious shame-cycle that’s basically left me wanting to forget high school forever.
While my complexion has greatly cleared since high school, I still wrestle with “leftover shame” regarding my physical appearance. Running and staying in shape has gone a long way to offset those remaining tendrils of body-related shame, but it’s been a long journey of recovery since the 6th grade.
For the longest time I dreaded the sound of my own voice. Couldn’t stand to watch myself on video or listen to myself on tape. The sound of my voice bothered me like one fingernail that grows faster than all the others. Or slower.
Combined with anxieties over my introversion and appearance — well, you get the idea.
At some point though, I fell in love with my voice. Not in a narcissistic way, but simply in a joyously embracing this-is-me kind of way. Now I love making videos and trying to translate my quirky thoughts from my typing fingertips to my mouth.
Alas, those syllables don’t always come out so neatly.
I may like how I sound now, but I’m a total bumbler. I stumble over words like my man Moses, and I honestly don’t know if this aspect of myself will ever change much. Practice makes perfect, yeah, but I’ve been talking off-and-on for about 24 years and, well.
My (in)ability to piece together spoken words is definitely the hardest, shamefulest issue of all.
Whenever I speak with others, I’m convinced that whatever words stumble from my lips won’t be nearly as fluently crafted as someone else’s speech. That could lead into an entire Struggle Sunday post on self-confidence or envy, but I’ll save that for another time.
My broken words have brought me countless reddened faces and watery eyes over the years — which has only amplified the shame of my physical appearance. Yeah, that cycle lurks everywhere.
I’m sure shame grabs me in other areas too, but these are the big ones that immediately come to mind. Tough stuff.
If you may be so bold on this pretty, churchy day normally reserved for covering up messy struggles, what brings you shame? How do you deal with it?