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  • Heather McDorman

Wildcats and Underpants: 4 Strategies to Survive Embarrassing Moments

Embarrassed dark-haired woman in red sweatshirt.

Embarrassing moments are the worst. They come for you when you least expect them, and they can leave you feeling dazed and confused – wondering what to do next. Some of these awkward experiences stay with you for a moment and others can last a lifetime. We can, however, learn from these embarrassments and move forward with grace.

Before I delve into strategies to survive an embarrassing moment, I thought I’d share some classics from different stages of my life (to date!).

High School – The Recurring Dream

Everyone experiences the random embarrassment in high school, right? While I have many such moments that I could share, for this post I’m choosing to recount the time that a recurring dream of mine became a reality.

My nightmare? As an adolescent I often dreamt of falling out of the back of our family’s station wagon (there were six kids, so we used every seat, and mini-seat, available). Now, for the reality. Picture this – it was my senior year in high school, and I bought a new dress and shoes and got a new haircut – all for the honor society installation. I was (I think) on a first date with – we’ll call him Greg. Greg was driving with me in the front seat and another couple in the back of the two-door sedan. (By the way, his name really is Greg.)

After the formal installation was over, Greg was driving us out of the high school parking lot on the way to the restaurant where everyone was meeting. As he took a slow curve nearing the school exit – I fell out. Yup, I tumbled right out of the car (seatbelts seemed optional back then). Eventually Greg stopped the car. I think he was in shock because Andy (part of our double date couple) crawled out from the back seat to get out of the car to check on me. My new dress had a little black tar on it and my pantyhose had a new run in it, but otherwise I was okay. But I was humiliated. Still, I insisted on going to the restaurant (FOMO was real, even in 1981). I think the incident was just as embarrassing for Greg, because if that was a first date, there was never a second one.

College – Go Wildcats!

My embarrassing moments didn’t end in high school. College brought with it plenty of new opportunities for my face to turn red. This one included my roommate and high school BFF, Pam.

On a whim, despite never being a high school cheerleader, we decided to try out for our college’s wrestling cheerleading team. We practiced, found the right tryout outfits, and encouraged each other to give it our all. Fortune decided that we had to “try out” together in front of the dean of students and the cheer advisors. Cool, right?

We began to shout our cheer with loads of required enthusiasm. I think the end of our tryout cheer went something like “Go, Wildcats, Go!” And that’s just what Pam and I yelled. Only one problem – we were the Bulldogs. The cheer “judges” noticed (go figure) and gave us another chance. I’ll be darned if we shouted out Wildcats, again. We were red faced. And, yeah, we weren’t selected to cheer on our Bulldog wrestling team. To this day, we have no idea how and why that happened – and in unison. (For the record, our high school mascot was a Spartan.)

Workplace – Static Cling Was Not My Friend

This last (and, again, sadly true) tale is set in my workplace – a community college. It was probably around 2001 when my son was enrolled in the college’s daycare as a toddler. Because I worked at the college, I knew the daycare teachers pretty well – as I was always the one who dropped Liam off in the morning and picked him up each evening.

As with most daycares, each Monday I would fill my son’s cubby with a new set of extra clothes (for mishaps) and small toys and books to entertain himself if he chose not to sleep during naptime. And then, at one Monday evening pick-up, I came face to face with his teacher. The sweetest gal (poor thing) had to share with me that she found a pair of underpants clinging to some of Liam’s extra clothes and maybe I wanted those back. ARGH – my not-so-attractive “granny pants” were discovered by one of my coworkers! I can laugh about it now (a lot), but – oh my gosh – that was mortifying.


Embarrassing moments. We've all experienced them at some point in our lives. Whether it's a clumsy stumble in front of a crowd, a social blunder that leaves us red faced, or a wardrobe malfunction at the worst possible moment, these instances can be mortifying. It's only natural to feel a rush of panic and a desire to crawl into a hole and disappear. But fear not!

Embarrassing moments need not be the end of the world. In fact, with the right mindset and a few essential strategies, you can not only survive these cringe-worthy incidents but even emerge stronger and more resilient.

I’ll share just four ways to navigate and thrive in the face of embarrassing moments.

1. Embrace Humor and Laugh It Off

Work group of men and a woman laughing

One of the most effective ways to survive an embarrassing moment is to embrace humor and laugh at yourself. Remember, we're all human, and we all make mistakes. By acknowledging the absurdity or awkwardness of the situation and being able to laugh at yourself, you take away the power of embarrassment. Others will often respond positively to your ability to find humor in the moment, and you'll find that laughter can diffuse tension and create a more relaxed atmosphere. So, the next time you find yourself in an embarrassing situation, take a deep breath, find the humor in it, and let out a genuine laugh.

2. Shift Your Perspective

Woman outdoors reflecting

Instead of dwelling on the embarrassment, try shifting your perspective to see the situation as an opportunity for growth and learning. Embarrassing moments provide valuable lessons in humility, resilience, and self-acceptance. By reframing the experience as a chance to develop your character and become more empathetic towards others, you transform embarrassment into personal growth. Remember, even the most accomplished individuals have experienced their fair share of awkward moments, and it is these very moments that often pave the way for success.

3. Practice Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

Woman with tulips over her face and smiling

When faced with an embarrassing moment, it's easy to let negative self-talk and self-judgment take over. However, practicing mindfulness and self-compassion can help you navigate these challenging emotions. Mindfulness involves being present in the moment, acknowledging your feelings without judgment, and accepting that embarrassment is a normal part of life. Pair this with self-compassion, which entails treating yourself with kindness, understanding, and forgiveness, just as you would a close friend. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes, and this momentary lapse does not define your worth as an individual.

4. Take Swift Action and Move Forward

Woman in service industry apologizing to customers.

While it may be tempting to dwell on an embarrassing incident, it's important to take swift action and move forward. Dwelling on the past will only prolong your discomfort and hinder your ability to recover gracefully.

Apologize, if necessary. Make amends, if possible. Then focus on the present moment. Engage in activities that boost your confidence and remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments. By actively moving forward, you regain control over your emotions and demonstrate resilience in the face of embarrassment.

Bring on the Awkward Experience – You’ve Got This!

Woman looking relaxed and confident.

Embarrassing moments are an inevitable part of the human experience, but they don't have to define us. By using humor, shifting our perspective, practicing mindfulness and self-compassion, and taking swift action, we can navigate these awkward encounters with success.

Remember, it's how we handle these moments that truly matter. So, the next time embarrassment comes knocking, greet it with a smile, embrace the lessons it brings, and emerge stronger on the other side.

What blush-worthy moments have you experienced, and how did you walk through it successfully? Share in the comments!

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Jul 23, 2023

One more thought... if you are going to flub up, be rejected, and embarrassed, do it in unison with your bff! Takes some of the sting out of it!! Great article. Great memories -- er, well, sort of.

Heather McDorman
Heather McDorman
Jul 25, 2023
Replying to

Thanks, Wildcat! ❤️


Jul 14, 2023

I can just picture you and Pam cheering for the Wildcats 🤣. At least you were consistent!! ❤️❤️

Heather McDorman
Heather McDorman
Jul 14, 2023
Replying to

It was something to behold! Lol

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