I started taking a writing class at The New School. On the first day, the professor told us that if our families don’t hate what we write, we haven’t found our voice. And then she assigned us a “humiliation essay.”  We went around the room and instead of saying our names and something interesting about ourselves, we said the thing we were most afraid people would find out.  That was interesting. (I know this all sounds more like a self-help seminar. Isn’t that what writing classes are? I’d like to know the difference between group therapy and writing classes. Welcome to the Apron Stage.)

“In high school, my mom got arrested,” one girl said. And then she looked around the room. “Wow, I’ve never told anybody that.”

There was the girl embarrassed by a photo her husband found. (Trust me.) A guy embarrassed when his doctor told his dad about an STD. A girl who ran away from the hospital after people found her passed out on the street. “I don’t think I did drugs that night,” she said. A night in jail here, a bad relationship there. Exploits. Lots of them.

And then it got to me. My face turned bright red and I blurted out, “I’m embarrassed because I don’t really have anything. I’ve never even tasted alcohol.” The girl next to me got really big eyes and looked away. I watched students pull out their filters and sit quietly. I think someone actually choked.

“That’s hot,” the professor said. “Go with it.”

And so I wrote an essay about how embarrassing religion can be. I worked really hard on it. I think I called Levi fourteen times yesterday for affirmation. And then last night I had to read it out loud to the class. 

I was really scared. The room got really warm and my voice quivered. No eye contact. The class didn’t laugh at the right parts. The professor wasn’t impressed. She crossed out a lot of words and gave me a B+. 

Whatever though. I was scared to read it. I admitted things that were hard to admit to people who I don’t feel comfortable being around. I actionably decided [to try] not to care what people think.

Yes, I did a secret fist pump when I got outside.