BREAKING FREE/ Shinano Kamimura

There is something that has been bothering me. I have a habit of blushing. When I talk with a person or people, I get nervous, and my face always turns red. I have been afraid of people’s eyes. Once a friend of mine told me that “your face really looked like an apple!” Then, I thought oh it was that obvious, and felt very embarrassed to show embarrassment in front of others. Slowly I began to hate myself blushing.

I remember that when I was 14 there was a recitation contest in my English class and somehow I was chosen as one of the class representatives for the recital with all the other classes, which means I had to stand in front of more than 200 people and recite a short passage from Martin Luther King’s famous “I have a dream” speech. It was a challenging thing that I never did before and I could easily imagine myself getting nervous and going red. If my face went red, I would feel insecure, I would forget what I was supposed to say, and then the audience would laugh at me. This negative idea in my head turned into fear. I tried to think of a way to somehow stop blushing.

Then, I got a brilliant idea: to take off my glasses. At that time, I was using glasses instead of contact lenses, which was very lucky for me, because without glasses I didn’t have to see anyone’s eyes. If I didn’t have to be exposed to many eyes gazing at me, I thought I wouldn’t blush, and it could make for a more comfortable environment.

The day came. Under the tension, I did it. I felt great that I did not forget any words until I finished the very last sentence, but later, I was unhappy. Even though I went without glasses, and tried not to blush, I could not conceal it. I thought I did everything I could, but I still blushed. The efforts didn’t pay off, which made me sad. I could not accept what happened because I repeatedly talked to myself and tried to overcome it. This continued. As I failed to overcome it many times, I lost confidence, and started thinking that blushing was my fault or it was a complex that had been with me for a long time.

Fortunately, in university, I realized I was wrong.  As a university student, I’ve had many chances to give speeches or presentations, and even though I experienced these activities many times, my blushing never disappeared. So, instead of continuing to fight with myself, I changed my way of thinking. Okay. I will blush anyway. And maybe it is not because of my emotional weakness or lack of confidence, but it is just impossible to go against the natural reaction of my nerves. When I feel I catch people’s attention, my nerves make me red. By accepting this as a natural human reaction, I could just give up trying to hide it or constantly working to overcome it. This gave me room in my mind to be free from feeling insecure and instead be able to focus more on the people whom I am speaking to.

What relieved me more was knowing the fact that one’s complex or worries are very small for others. Usually, they don’t even care about it. I often ask friends if I seemed nervous during my presentation, and many people said I was blushing, but they also said I seemed fairly confident. From their reaction, I realized that blushing does not always make me seem less confident. I was the only one who cared that much, creating imaginary fears and getting worried. In reverse, I did not notice that others also got very nervous and worried about forgetting words during their presentations. This reminded me of how much people are creating their own worries and making themselves uncomfortable due to their self-consciousness.

To me, blushing is very exhausting. I get very hot, my mouth doesn’t move well and that’s why I thought this nature is very bad for better communication. I believed it cannot be a good thing. But I met a guy who saw my blushing face and asked me “Do you know that is your advantage?” I totally could not understand what he was saying. But he continued, “you could use it as a way to show your passion and seriousness, which gives a great impression to others.”

Looking back, I remembered that one of my friends kindly told me that she liked my blushing face and the delivery of my presentation because she could see and feel my enthusiasm. I thought they were right. Then I changed my mind. What I thought as bad could be seen as good by others. Thanks to becoming very red by nature, I could be passionate without trying to be passionate. Then, I realized it may just be the matter of which angle you see the thing, positive or negative.

Of course, I couldn’t stop blushing after all and sometimes blushing still distracts me. But through these realizations, I could add the positive side of it into my perception. This is one part of me. I stopped hiding it and through sharing my story about it, I began accepting it. Now, I can explain about myself by saying “I just tend to get red. It always happens to me.” Previously, I could never say those words to anybody because I didn’t want to show my weaknesses, but by saying these words, I am feeling more comfortable than before even when I am blushing.

So, what about you? Do you have any similar complexes or worries? Most of us may have something that we do not like about ourselves. The reason and the possible treatment would be different from mine. But I think there is one thing that is true for everyone: we are the only ones who change our “complexes”. I am not talking about changing your complex itself—it’s about changing your perception towards it. It is all up to you which angle you choose, positive or negative. Take a step back from your fixed ideas and get another perspective. Talk and share about yourself with others who may give you some hints. It may take a long time but imagine yourself feeling more comfortable just being yourself. If we want to live more freely, we should get free from these negative-self-images.

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