The other day I found myself feeling bad looking through my old family holiday pictures.
Apple did that thing where it oversteps the boundaries and provides slightly invasive notification reminders of what we were doing 'on this day' a few years ago. It has resulted in various overlapping series of rich memories flooding back.
For now, I’m reminiscing on the embarrassing and undignified memories I have of years gone by.
I’m ready to move forward
This is to remind myself that while we’re missing out on lots of cool memories – sometimes traveling isn’t all that. But also, to move past the guilt and shame – beating myself up for a past mistake, or cringy outfit!
We need to bask in some disasters and allow ourselves to laugh at them or let them go. After all, no one has ever done something as a precocious teen that they cringed next year. No one at all…
Prancing around, hiking with my school trip = teenagers, we thought ‘trollop’ was a mix between a trot and gallop. Suffice it to say everyone always laughed at us.
Given that we were the nerdy group, I can see why us shouting about prostitutes would have seemed particularly conspicuous!
Next up, Iceland
Our team leader on another hike happened to walk by us just as I exclaimed to my friend that our descent from the summit would ‘crucify my thighs.’ Oh, the youth!
It literally echoed through the mountainside. Sigh. It was very poetic and not at all emotionally scaring.
I saw a chipmunk another time in Yosemite, so I suddenly lurched across the footpath to get a closer look (and to take a picture) and promptly fell into a hole in the ground.
Yes, you heard that right – a hole. I felt awful for that silly mistake and had a minor existential crisis on the way home. And I was just so full of anger and resentment towards myself.
I scraped my knee and got gravel in my cut, and I didn’t even get that chipmunk picture. Apparently, I made such a huge shriek of horror as I fell that all animals in a four-mile radius scarpered in fear.
The rare bird watchers behind us really loved that, judging by the glowers I received for the remaining three hours of the National Park tour.
Another time, I was in Portugal with my family
You know how you feel freer to make rogue fashion decisions when you’re on holiday because no-one knows you and the rules don’t apply?
Well, it was on this misguided principle that I elected to debut my new dress, which, no exaggeration, was a peach-colored, striped, sack.
Like literally an embarrassing potato sack.
There was no shape or belt, but for whatever reason, teenage me was really feeling myself that day. As a result, on all my socials, up it went.
The picture had my mum’s thumb in the corner and my sister rolling on the floor, bored, in the background, but I clearly felt strongly enough of my superstardom that my chicness would shine through the shadows.
14 likes proved my celebrity status and a heavy sepia filter to add character and effortless authenticity to the whole proceedings.
Looking back, bored, and in quarantine, I started to look into my existing emotional real estate, my embarrassing memories.
Now is the time to convert some shame into pride. I’m able to forgive myself and stop punishing my embarrassing past.
My mistakes are just as valid as the triumphs
Without being kind to ourselves, we submit to emotional abuse and self-esteem issues. Avoid the toxic shame and let your loved ones remind you how fun and great you are!
You don’t’ have to forget the bad things; you have to accept them, feel safe, and stop feeling terribly for things you can’t control.
Thinking back to what I had previously labeled as my holiday hell was, in fact, something I can look back on with distance, perspective, and appreciation.
The fact is, I am always likely to regret things in the future or to cringe. So, I might as well do whatever and live life to be happy, rather than to avoid regret.
They aren’t the same thing, after all. Think not about missing vacations; instead, come to terms with vacations we haven’t fully been grateful for yet.