For day 32 of #100DaysOfDiscomfort, I faced public humiliation, clad in a “court appointment” public humiliation sign.
It said, “I stole from a charity box”
I stood in front of my local grocery store. Most people tried not to make eye contact as they walked by. But when I made an effort to make eye contact and smile, some did.
That’s when I started to get comments.
As an older man passed me, we smiled at each other. He looked down at my sign and laughed.
Next, a younger man made eye contact with me. Then, he looked at my sign. “That’s fucked up. That’s a good punishment. Your parents make you do that?”
“The judge”, I answered.
A middle aged guy smiled and said, “You’ll be alright.”
Then store manager told me I can’t record because it’s illegal. That’s not true. But my spouse and I left anyways. He was doing the same challenge at the other entrance.
On our way out a man in his car told us we were doing right for the world and our karma.
The last interaction I felt bad about.
As we walked home, a man turned around in his car to catch up to us. A religious Jewish school teacher, he didn’t agree with the our punishment. “I feel for you. It’s not right to embarrass someone like this. I would rather you give to a charity than feel shamed.”
I have a rule not to tell anyone that I’m doing my embarrassing tasks for a project. But I should have broken it. Because another rule is not to cause others more discomfort than myself. The signs affected the man negatively. I should have let him know it was just a project.
What I learned
I learned that even when you do something unethical, people don’t have much bad to say. At least not to your face. Maybe they thought my humiliation was punishment enough.
I can’t be sure, but I felt silent judgement from those that said nothing.
I’d rather get acknowledgment. Even when the man said what I did was fucked up, I still felt more compassion from him than the people who ignored me.
This shows me it’s good to acknowledge people. It makes them feel better.
Though the situation made me mildy uncomfortable, I didn’t feel shame or embarrassment. Maybe because I didn’t really do what my sign read. That being said, I can’t deny that the challenges are increasing my resilience.
The experience showed me that if someone believes a lie about me, it doesn’t have to affect me. I used to get upset when someone believed a rumor about me. But I shouldn’t. People are simple. They believe what’s easiest to believe. They don’t stop to think, maybe the rumor isn’t true. Maybe there’s some other crazy explanation? Like maybe they wore a sign that said they did something that they didn’t do for a mental fortitude?
So, I shouldn’t be afraid of what people think. They’re probably wrong. The people who judged me today had bad judgement. They thought I stole from a charity box, when really I’m just a liar. People don’t judge you. They judge their idea of you. That’s not you.
I’m feeling more and more resistant to judgement. I want to experience more! They’re rolling off me like dew drops on an oil slick. Give them to me!
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