They say that embarrassment requires an audience. And it’s true. If no one sees something there is no reason to feel embarrassed about it. We can all re-imagine the horror of tripping in the lunchroom, tray aflying – even if we never actually did it. But envision the same thing happening alone at home. It may be frustrating and an ugly mess, but it is not embarrassing.
Now imagine – in either case – someone rushing to your assistance. Someone who helps you up and makes sure the mess is righted. A friend who knows you so well, that their reaction is compassion not schadenfreude. Someone who knows this shit happens to everyone but genuinely feels bad that it happened to you this time.
We need these people. We need friends with whom we can share everything. Not just the awesome, but also the awful, ridiculous, and gross. These are the people who can see us stumble and not illicit our embarrassment. These are the Not Audience.
Our not audiences can help us when we set ourselves on a difficult life journey. If we need to lose weight, go through rehab, kick an illness, or mourn a loved one, having a not audience can make the difference between getting it done and failing. We don’t just tell these people about all the awful shit we are dealing with. They make us feel stronger for having shared it. they remove the obstacles in their control. They lend their ears, their arms, and their shoulders so that we may struggle through, be stronger, and succeed.
Tasks in life are often too big for one person. Our need for help can not be undone by our fear of being embarrassed. That is why we need our not audience.