Embarrassment is knowing you screwed up and wishing it had worked out better.
Shame is hating yourself for being who you are.
What? Right when you thought you were getting a crown? Yes, that’s the best time to apply shame. Just when you are ready to step up on the podium and reach for the crown. Slap! No crown. Instead, shame. Shame’s purpose is to get you to sit down, lie down, and shut up.
How can you avoid shame? The easy way is to lie down and be quiet. Being quiet will not get you praise, but others will walk over you and not kick you. Probably. But being quiet is very hard when you have tasted the joy of working on your creative project for your own satisfaction.
The other way to avoid shame is to refuse to accept it. No one can shame you if you don’t accept the baggy sweatshirt with the big S on it and pull it over your head. Yes, this is a very hard idea. Yes, it is a tough reality. You can take the blame for making a mistake, for not hitting the deadline, for not winning the competition, but that’s blame. Shame is another matter.
Courage is continuing your creative work when you aren’t sure what the outcome will be, but the work is invigorating and meaningful, and you are doing it.
Some tips about shame:
1. If your tribe (audience, friends) try to shame you, they are the wrong group for you. Others cannot choose what is important to you. It works the other way around: you choose what is important to you and attract those for whom it is also important.
2. Be careful about thinking you need a mentor. A mentor is not going to discover you, change your life, or make other people respect you. That’s your job. A mentor may act like a tutor–help you figure out what you need, discover where you can get what you need.
3. There is no secret to success. You show up, work hard. You will fail, you will make mistakes, you will have luck, you will be brilliant, you will make progress and then backslide, all on your way to success. But there is no secret, no one private word that you have to know.
4. It’s hard to be brave. It’s hard to be brave when you are heavily rewarded for shutting your eyes and doing what you are told. Brave is the opposite of shame. Be brave. That’s who you are.
––Quinn McDonald is refusing the baggy sweatshirt of shame.