Embarrassing Moment of Hosiery

For decades I dressed and undressed without incident.

Whatever underwear was within reach went on before clothes and the clothes came off in no particular order before the underwear.

Until that fateful day.


Getting ready one morning I noticed feeling panicky gross inside and desperately wanting to run away.

Or at least shrink into the walls.

But where do you go if you’re already in the closet?


What. The. Frick!?

How could I possibly feel so incredibly embarrassed putting clothes on for the gazillionth time?


A memory flashed to mind.


Embarrassed foot posture on tile floor

Many weeks earlier I’d been watching As Time Goes By, a favourite British comedy.

In one particular scene, Lionel was growing weary listening to his can’t-get-a-word-in-edgewise assistant Mrs. Flack.

As Mrs. Flack prattles on about her husband, she reveals he is often found wearing nothing but his socks.

Lionel’s eyes couldn’t roll any further back in his head while the laugh track grew louder and harder.


Clearly, hubby was made out to be a socially clueless joke.


The pieces fell into place.


Feeling panicky gross I looked down to see myself standing wearing nothing but socks.

(My apologies should that fall into the realm of too much information.)

Apparently, I unwittingly became a socially clueless joke too.


Bless my brain.

For all this time it had been silently standing guard, protecting against ostracization for a mere faux pas of hosiery.


I can laugh now, but the feeling is no less strong or compelling.

Even fully aware of the circumstances, when socks manage to be the only item of clothing at the time, embarrassment rises swiftly to the fore.

Observing these moments has become somewhat of curiosity, a reason to explore feeling two emotions at once along with if and how the sensation has changed.


Others aren’t so curious.

The fear of being embarrassed is strong.

After all, it was a way to ensure survival and continue to be part of our group.

Stay in line and all will be fine.


I’ve seen people frozen in their present, unable to step out and take a new path they so desperately desire.

All from the mere possibility of feeling embarrassed.

Whether or not they remember an incident from back when is irrelevant.

The sensations are real enough.

Like foreboding signals of what might happen ahead.


Only there’s no room made for the alternative of what also might happen.

The exhilaration and joy of making a dream come true or the deep sense of peace from being yourself.


What I’ve learned from observing my socked moments and a lifetime of embarrassing moments

– the feelings don’t necessarily go away, but they don’t have to control me.

And believe me, this brain knows the sure-fire triggers to bring on instant panic to flee.


But by not running away or pushing the feelings aside, the emotion lessens.

Space opens up to see more clearly what’s going on and to choose differently.

Practice being embarrassed and funny things just might happen.


What sorts of reactions do you have to embarrassing situations?


feel free to share

Read other
Lorraine Watson - on rustic porch

chief nudging officer


Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.


  1. Mary McFarland on February 10, 2015 at 7:40 am

    Delightful post, Lorraine, and bound to press some powerful–and deeply hidden–buttons. I’m living “all in,” (smiley face and “kudos” to my teacher), so if I’m not embarrassed by something I’ve done every day, then I’m not breathing. When I gave up my life as a desk jockey, the last thing to go was my panty hose. Can you imagine holding on to something so confining? So . . . binding? I felt naked and embarrassed without them. Now I use them to hold up my tomato plants and, when I must take my dogs to the vet, for leashes! Best thing ever, seeing the looks on folks’ faces and not feeling the least embarrassed.

    • Lorraine on February 15, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      I’m so happy I didn’t hold down a desk long enough to miss panty hose – or dress pants. Would love to see the faces of everyone in the vet’s office. Testing the waters and pushing boundaries does come with its share of embarrassment – and laughs. Good to have people, or chickens, who can appreciate those moments with you.

  2. Dawn Downey on February 10, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    Here’s what I do when I’m embarrassed. Stop and feel as embarrassed as I possibly can. Be the Olympic champion of embarrassment. Try to remember everything that’s going on in my body and every crazy thought I’m thinking. And then write the funniest, most exaggerated, most definitive essay about embarrassment ever! (I’m embarrassed to say how competitive I am in the funny essay department.)

    • Lorraine on February 15, 2015 at 2:52 pm

      Amazing how much putting one’s full attention on the feeling can shift the experience into a different one. Embarrassed to competitive isn’t a leap one would expect, but obviously works. Many of your writings are pretty humorous to begin with so I can well imagine where embarrassment might take them!

  3. Carrie Ann Lahain on February 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Well, there was the time that I was a teaching assistant for a course that started at 8:10 am. Throughout university I had terrible chronic insomnia. There were stretches where I’d get two or three hours sleep and have to get up feeling like the walking dead. It’s one reason I always set my clothes and books out the night before, so I could dress and run. I guess the initial mistake happened at laundry time–I must have washed a sweater inside out and not righted it when it came out of the clothes dryer.

    On this particular morning, I threw my clothes on and ran out of my dorm and across campus to the lecture center. I went to the audiovisual department and picked up the slides for the day, not quite registering the smirks of the clerks behind the desk. Then I took my seat in the first row of a lecture hall with over a hundred students. I heard tittering behind me. Again, it didn’t register…undergrads are giggly by nature. Then the student behind me came around and bent close to my ear, “Ummm, your top is inside out.” By now the professor was taking his place at the lectern. I hurried out…hands to my stomach as if I were ill…and ran to the ladies. Turned out my sweater was inside out AND backward.

    It wasn’t long after this that I left my PhD program. Not over the sweater incident. That was just a symptom. I was living in a state of constant anxiety. After leaving the program, my insomnia lessened and other stress-related symptoms vanished.

    In general, I react to embarrassing situations badly. Over-the-top levels of distress, which I rehash and rehash…sometimes years after the event. I think it comes with being a perfectionist. Getting something wrong is treated like a deep personal flaw. Also, being bullied in school as a child made it worse…children will take a small flaw or mistake and use it to torture another person.

    • Mary McFarland on February 12, 2015 at 6:16 am

      Carrie Ann, thanks for sharing this anecdote. It brought to mind similar incidents, as I’m sure it does to everyone who reads your post, which . . . is why it’s so touching. I’m happy there are so many programs (ugh, I hate that word “programs”) in place to counter bullying in schools. Not that I believe they’re effective. I doubt they are to the extent they need to be. Thanks to Lorraine for this post, too, because it provokes deep thought . . . and equally deep response.

    • Lorraine on February 15, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      I’m glad you had the courage to leave the program and do what was best for you. For the few months I was in a bad situation with no apparent way out, I had a taste of living in constant anxiety and it was not fun

      Recounting your sweater incident reminded me of the day the back of my pants split in school. Already a bit of an outsider, the lunch bell couldn’t ring fast enough for me to go home and change. Oh the looks I got walking with a binder on my butt. Kids can be especially unkind, worse yet in groups to protect against being embarrassed themselves.

Letters From Home

Personal handcrafted notes delivered straight to your inbox

Get the details on emails, preference settings and privacy

Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.