Monday, April 12, 2010

Couch Session

I have a problem. It occurs when I'm in a room full of people. Or when I'm in a small group of people. Or when I'm just with one other person.

So, basically all the time.

It has to do with me completely embarrassing myself - on purpose.

See, I have this tendency to self-deprecate. To a ridiculous degree. Like, I will willingly announce the worst parts about myself, leaving my audience slightly confused and probably disgusted.

Example. I'm chit chatting with two women I don't know very well the other day. I'm slightly in awe of both of them. They're pretty awesome ladies. One comments that "wow, you look good for having a one month old!"

And I immediately turn up the side of my shirt so they can see that I can't close the zipper on my skirt underneath.

Explain this to me.

Do I do it for a laugh? Maybe a little. Do I do it so they'll like me? Well, frankly it's not a particularly good social tactic. Do I do it so they don't think too well of me? ... yeah, I think so.

It's like whenever anyone thinks even luke warm thoughts about me, I make it my personal duty to destroy them. To let them know that no, really, I'm not that great of a person.

Confession. I actually like myself pretty okay. No. No. Be honest. All right - I like myself a lot. I don't like everything about the person I see in the mirror, but all in all, I think I'm a pretty darn good person. I just don't want anyone to know. (Besides, of course, the tens of people who read this blog.)

And truly, I run myself pretty down on this 'ere blog, too. I post humiliating pictures, tell embarrassing poop stories, lament about my ugly cold sores and share too much information about my sweating/social event issues. I regale you all with how my neighbors thought I was abusing my child, and came clean that parenting can be pretty darn hard. I hash out all my insecurities, desperately making myself look pretty desperate.

Which brings us to my final conclusion in my self-psycho-analysis: I think I self-deprecate to test acceptance.

Do we all do this? Feel the need to make people really know us - and hope they don't leave? Do we all have a compulsion to be truly known - deep down - for who we really are, despite our dark sides? A sort of "I'm not perfect, but will you like me any way?" masochistic method?


Or maybe I just do it for the laughs.


Kristina P. said...

I do the same thing! I think it makes us think we are more real and endearing. Which I think it can.

Annette Lyon said...

It's a female thing. Women try to keep things level, to never put ourselves above someone else. It's the same reason why, if someone gives us a compliment, we often discount it and/or give a compliment back.

(Read all about it in Deborah Tannen's "You Just Don't Understand." Helped me realize that I don't talk like most women--which is also why I have an unfortunate ability to turn women off and seem intimidating. It was a relief to know I'm not unlikeable or broken. I just don't talk like a woman! Trying, though--and it actually makes a difference in how other women treat me.

I'm betting this habit of yours is one reason others love you to pieces.

Wonder Woman said...

I definitely do this. When someone tells me I look good for having just had a baby, I tell them it's the slimmer. When someone says they like the paint on my walls, I tell them I didn't know what I was doing, didn't prime, and now it peels away. And I show them where it's peeling. When someone says my hair's cute, I tell them it's easier to do it curly than actually curl it.

Have you ever done the Hartman Color Code personality test? I'm half yellow, half blue. The blue half wants everyone to know my flaws and love me anyway. The yellow half wants people to laugh.

KC Mom said...

I do the same thing. Problem is...I really don't like myself's true.
Tell me why we do that and then maybe I'll be happy again!!

Kim L. said...

I TOTALLY do this...on purpose. I take it to the next level, though. I will INTENTIONALLY leave my house messy the first time I have a new friend over...I may not wear make up...or sweat pants....and I DON"T apologize... Instead I say something silly like, "I'd apologize for the mess, but who am I is ALWAYS like this." It breaks down the competitive craziness that IS woman. Eventually, they realize THEY don't need to clean their house for ME either...and the walls come down MUCH faster... to where we can become deeper friends because there is no pretense or feelings of "keeping up"

Just SO said...

I do this all the time. But I think it's to let others know that I have my own set of problems. Or that I'm "real" you know? Plus you can't beat a good laugh. ;)

Nikki said...

I do this in public a lot. I have yet to get the courage to post more than one picture of myself on my blog. I don't know. I feel like my readers have an image of me and will be horrified if they see the true me in a non-photoshopped way. Not that I know how to use photoshop. I don't.

Here's a little reality for you. I decided that my kids needed some vegetables with their breakfast this morning. So I took the lazy way out and got a back of steamable green beans with almonds from the freezer and tossed them in the microwave while I read my reader. After clicking several of your links, that I was surprised I didn't recall reading half, I found that I had taken the beans out of the microwave. I emptied them in a bowl and proceeded to consume the entire bag. I am a gluttonous pig-dog.

Maybe the kids can eat cereal. again.

Nikki said...

P.S. I love all the comments. I especially like Kim. L's. I notice that these people like she described are the ones that I can get to know easier and not feel uneasy around.

Happy Mom said...

Don't have a clue why (although I do it to some extent too), but keep on doing what your doing, girl! Your blog makes me happy!

Joni said...

Story of my life.

I think I'm afraid that people will think I'm not aware of my own flaws. So I'm sure to let them know I'm aware.

I'm very, very aware.

If I bash myself, then they don't get the chance, verbal or not.

Also, I'm just a little bit insane.

Kimberly said...

I do this too - to a radical degree at times. Yeah, I've even shown people my stretch marks, it's that bad. And it's totally to test acceptance. If people still want to know me after they know the worst, I know I won't get attached to them and then get my wee little heart broke if they find out the worst later. It's a bit mental but it kind of makes sense.

I feel like less of a freak after reading this post. I seriously thought I was the only one ('cause I'm self-centred like that).

DeNae said...

I completely get this, but I'm less likely to do it now than I was, say, 10 years ago. I do think it's an acceptance thing, although my sense from you is that it isn't a fishing expedition for compliments. Rather, it's sort of a litmus test for the whole "You're ok, and I hope I'm ok but I'm waiting to find out" deal.

Women build trust by sharing intimacies and carefully revealing weaknesses. That's why we're so likely to cross lines and turn the sharing of secrets into gossiping or murmuring. I think it comes from a perfectly reasonable place; as with anything else, we just have to manage it.

And we all get a kick out of seeing funny pictures or someone doing something spontaneous, like the time my very-proper friend suddenly hiked up her skirt to show that her garment legs were three inches different in length -- all while we were standing in the kitchen at the church! So silly and trusting and human. I think that's what we're going for when we do those things.

(And I see right through you, TG. I know you're pretty swell!)

The Wingnut's said...

Everything I blurt out in public is the honest truth. I am a terrible liar and so the things that pop out is all true - but, I am always giving away too much information. I go home and kick myself for sharing way too much personal stuff! I need a muzzle!
Great post, as always, and that is the truth!

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Speaking for myself, I don't like compliments when they feel like someone is putting me on a pedestal. I want people to know there's an even playing ground and I am human. Because even though a pedestal might seem cool in theory, it can be lonely, and we'd rather have friends who stay around and laugh at us than just look at us on a shelf. That's what I think.

Sarah said...

I think it's both AND I think it is not as bad as you think, I have never noticed that you do it myself. I think it just makes you real.

Amy said...

I was REALLY bad at this a few years back! But it drove my best friend at the time nuts, so whenever I would start justifying a compliment with my flaws, she would speak louder than I did saying "She means Thank-You!"

It was really awkward at first because we were always together, but I've gotten out of the habit. Now I'm in the habit of smiling, saying thank-you and mentally stating my flaws in my head.

I even didn't point out the flaws of my Sunday school lesson this week to the people that complimented me! And THAT one was hard to swallow, because they were there to hear the bad.

Kazzy said...

Self-deprecation has always been the fodder of a good comedian. But be careful that you don't start to really believe all of it. :)

InkMom said...

So this kind of goes along with a phenomenon I've noticed in the blogging world.

I have this theory (based on observation of other blogs, not only my own) that if you want to get a lot of comments, you have to make sure what you're writing doesn't make it seem like your life is too much better than anyone else's. (The exception to this rule is supremely happy news, like having a baby, which draws comments the best of all.)

Maybe it's all related? I'm a little like Annette, I think -- prone to intimidate because of my way-too-firm grasp on reality (for better and for worse) and this tendency to over- or under-state the true nature of things makes me scratch my head a little bit. And while it's good to keep things level, sometimes I think self-deprecation is a defense mechanism against cattiness.

And it's also a reflection of how hard we are on ourselves that we can't just own it when we do something great. But all of these little idiosyncrasies are what make us identify with each other, and solidify kinship and love. It's authenticity, in it's own way -- even if the reality is that you look completely fabulous for having a baby so young.

I have so rambled my way in a circle. I'm glad this comment is after most people have already read this post, because I make NO SENSE.

Love your blog.

Melissa Bastow said...

Usually I just say stuff like, "I KNOW - I'm so amazing!" or "Yeah, my hair does look killer awesome ALL THE TIME." And then I like to deliver a "well, duh?" look to go with it. And I have TONS of friends, so it clearly works best.

Ok, no. Usually I'm not having conversations with groups of women, or a couple women, or anyone at all. I don't talk to people much. And if other women are talking, and I somehow end up in their presence, I just usually keep my mouth shut, or pretend there's a really interesting bug on my shoe.

Harmony said...

In the paragraph where you list all the embarrassing things you say about yourself on your blog, you forgot to mention "create links to all my embarrasing moments so that people who haven't read them can now do so." Love it.

And, as I'm sure everyone has told you, you're not alone. I do it, too. I think we sometimes need to learn how to say "thank you" when given a compliment (I'm REALLY bad at it).

Becky said...

Steph@D&D sent me in this direction due to my recent post. If I'd have known you'd already written on the whole self-deprecation issue, I'd have skipped the post and done my dishes instead. :)

I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has this problem. I mean, I'd be gladder if neither of us had this problem, but I don't wanna get greedy.