“Wow, that is very considerate… but also fucking disgusting.”

Just this past week, I attended a wedding on the west coast with my sister. This wedding was the first chance we have all had to really celebrate and let loose since the pandemic started over a year and half ago. My sister is a full time ICU nurse, as is the bride of the wedding, and the promise of a fully vaccinated wedding and reception may have been too much to handle for everyone who went. Now I happen to have a drink from time to time, but my sister is as straight-laced as they come. She has never been buzzed, let alone drunk. After a full night of laughing, dancing, drinking and playing we were headed back to the hotel on the shuttle with the bride’s family. Most of us were snoozing, browsing pictures of the night, or quietly chatting. Suddenly my sister woke up in the seat directly across from mine and started to get sick. In my drunken languor I thought she slapped her hand to her face, spraying vomit on the seats in front of her and immediately had secondhand embarrassment. I jumped up to assist her, but on the two steps over to her I realized she had actually pulled out the collar of her dress and thrown up down on the inside of the front of her dress. The sister-in-law of the bride sitting in front of her had heard it and turned around saying “Did she throw up on me???!!”. Luckily she did not. In that split second of wit, my sister had saved the bus and everyone in vicinity of being grossly painted with her last few snacks and drinks. We got off the bus and back up to the hotel room to get her showered and the next morning my sister was miraculously hangover free. On the way to checkout of the hotel, we rendezvoused with the bride and groom in the lobby and she mentioned the event on the bus. We shared the story and we all laughed about how miraculous the whole thing had been. The groom obviously nursing a hangover like myself, assessed what he and we all thought about my sister throwing up on herself to save everyone else: “Wow, that was very considerate of her, but also fucking disgusting.”

On the way home, my sister and I examined the night in detail and reflected on all that happened. She was worried that the family of the bride would think she was sloppy because she couldn’t hold her liquor. I reassured her that no one thought that. After thinking about what she did more in depth, I realized that I had been in her shoes before more often than I realized, in different scenarios. How many times do we all sacrificed ourselves completely for either the sake of others or to avoid possible embarrassment? When is being completely disgusting worse than being inconsiderate of others?

While I was coaching my sister through her event that night, she was so pitiful, shakily saying “hide me Rinn, hide me”. There was no way to avoid or stop her from getting sick on the bus. The embarrassment was due in any case but by lessening the fallout, it now would be something we all laughed about the next day instead of a huge cleaning bill and gossip all around the family and friends for weeks. I think obviously that this is one of the less harmful cases, where a little temporary discomfort was obviously an easy price to pay for the consideration of others. However, if you start to think about other scenarios where a little discomfort quickly elevates to lifestyle changes, huge monetary sacrifices or even lost friendships, you realize that we as humans go to great lengths sometimes just to save face. It’s easier to say that we should live in a way that we don’t consider possible embarrassment as a reason to suffer and that we should just live more freely than it is to actually do. I do think that it is more realistically possible for us to take in consideration these moments that we are sacrificing everything just so that someone else doesn’t for a second think that we are an embarrassment. Going far to hide our mistakes must be somewhat of a natural reaction, but to what extent is natural? We all should at some point consider just how much power we give societal pressure over our actions and how often in this day and age it might just be more considerate to yourself to just take the embarrassment.

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