Everyone gets uneasy now and then and does something odd, but people who suffer from social anxiety have it worse. These Redditors share their stories of epic screwups that will make every reader feel their pain. The cringe is real.
Recently, I saw my mailman on my street about half a block up. He saw me and politely waved. I was waiting for a package, and he had a package in his hand. I thought he was indicating to me that he had mail for me, so I started walking toward him. He saw me walk toward him, and so he walked toward me.
About halfway there, I realized it was not my package, and he was just politely waving. We were still walking towards each other. It felt like an eternity, and I didn’t know what to do. I wish I could go back and stop myself from making my next move.
As we approached each other, my anxiety got the best of me, and rather than doing what any normal person would do—explaining the situation and just laughing it off—I walked up without a word, and for some reason that I do not know, I extended my arms to hug him.
I had never met this man, we'd never spoken, and now I walked 75 feet down the middle of the street to awkwardly and silently hug him. It was the most awkward moment of my life.
Without saying a word, I quickly turned around and walked home, where I immediately shut all my blinds and didn't dare leave the house for the rest of the day. I still can't leave the house without looking outside to make sure I won't run into him. I might have to move.
When I was about 11, I stood in a room with my mom and her employees after an office Thanksgiving luncheon. They were chatting away about various things, and we were all snacking. I took a bite of turkey, and as I went to swallow it, it lodged in my throat.
I kept swallowing as hard as I could, but it wouldn't budge, and I couldn't breathe. I didn't have a drink near me, either. My reaction was literally insane.
I stood there attempting to get it down while giving NO INDICATION that I was literally choking on my food because I didn't want to interrupt the conversation or draw attention to myself. My vision was starting to black on the edges, and I was full-on panicking inside when I finally got it swallowed down.
I remember breathing heavily through my nose and my eyes watering, thinking how stupid I was, but at that point, I DEFINITELY couldn't say anything about it.
I worked retail and got better at talking to people, but I still had major anxiety. If it got too bad, I'd ask to go out for a smoke break, which my manager was very cool with. I am mainly just very awkward with small talk. A lot of my job was helping customers, talking to people who seemed lonely or needed it, and just being kind.
One slow day, I started talking myself up in my head. I wanted to try to improve my small talk and be nice. I had skimmed through the newspaper earlier and saw one of our regulars had passed. It didn't say the reason why he passed, but he'd always been very sweet to me, so I was genuinely sad.
I'd already had a few customers bring it up since everyone knew about it, but one woman was insanely rude about the deceased. She told me what a horrible person he was, that he'd lost his life due to syphilis from cheating on his wife. People can be rude, so I just brushed it off.
A few hours later, this sweet but quiet older lady came in. I tried to strike up a conversation about the weather, but she was not very receptive, so I started feeling my anxiety hit. I still don't know why, but I brought up the obituary I read in the newspaper, and the conversations from earlier popped into my head.
She gave me this look which, for whatever reason, made me stutter out, "Yeah, I heard he died of syphilis from cheating on his wife. Terrible way to go". It was just anxious word vomit spilling from my mouth. I instantly wanted to bash my head against the register repeatedly.
Before I could even apologize or react, she teared up. I froze. I'd made the worst mistake imaginable. She started crying and screamed, "My husband was a good man. It was brain cancer! Brain cancer!!!" My heart was pounding, a full-fledged panic attack was coming on, and I couldn't physically make myself say anything.
I couldn't apologize or explain. I just stared in shock. She stormed out, and I went and hid in the bathroom and cried for thirty minutes. Out of everyone in my town of 6,000 people, I managed to find and talk trash about the deceased to his widow out of anxiety. I still feel sick thinking about it. I have never tried to make small talk again.
My anxiety is super bad. I was visiting my girlfriend in college for the weekend. She was in her first year, and I was a senior in high school. We'd been having fun that day, getting Slurpees from the neighboring 7-Eleven, and so forth. As the day went on, though, she had class, and I elected to stay in her room and hang out.
She had a single dorm room, but there was this shared living room thing connecting several individual rooms, so you sorta halfway have roommates. There was also a shared, multi-toilet bathroom connected to the main room too.
Sitting in the room for hours, I eventually needed to pee. However, all of the other occupants were hanging out and talking loudly in the main room. I was way too scared to go through them to the bathroom without my girlfriend, as it felt awkward to have some rando walk through.
I tried to wait, but it went on for two hours before I couldn't hold it any longer. I freaked out and decided to pee into my empty Slurpee cup. I filled it with tissues so it couldn't spill out and put it by my girlfriend’s trash to get rid of it later. That being said, I was beyond embarrassed and really upset.
In my freak out, I began to cry out of emotional overload and shame. Eventually, she came back to find me on the floor, crying in shame, with a Slurpee cup full of tissues and pee. Luckily, she understood and felt bad for me.
This moment haunts me still. About 15 years ago, I was a young teen browsing the electronics section of Walmart. As I was leaving that area, this guy and a girl around my age were coming into the electronics area. They saw me, and both enthusiastically said, "Hey!!" like they were happy and surprised to see me.
I didn't recognize them, but I thought maybe we had a class together or something, so I was like, "Hey!! How's it going?!" feigning cheerfulness as I tried to place where I knew them from. They both looked at me weirdly and made a face, then walked past me to a guy and girl behind me, greeting them. Somehow, it gets worse.
I was so embarrassed and anxious I just got out of the electronics department as fast as I could without running. I went to the next department over, which ended up being ladies' clothing—the bra and panty area. A female employee came over and asked if I needed help, looking at me confused because of the department.
I was flustered and said, "Sorry, just trying to find electronics,” to which she replied, "Oh, it's over this way. Come with me". I didn't want to go back, but now I was obligated. So I followed her back. As we approached, I saw the two teens I had the awkward interaction with, and their two friends all looked up and stared at me.
"There ya go," the employee said then she started chatting with the cashier in electronics. At that time, Walmart's electronics section was like a big square with only one opening for an entrance and exit to deter theft.
So now, I was trapped in this area with the people I just had the awkward exchange with and the employee who just escorted me from women's clothes. I was so embarrassed, and my whole body felt hot from anxiety. I just blankly stared at the video games behind the glass until the other people left, and then I took off.
I️ was searching for roommates and hired a cleaning company to deep clean my very gross apartment. I️ left them a key in my mailbox because I️ was supposed to be at school on the scheduled cleaning date. I skipped school but forgot the cleaning company was coming. When they arrived, I️ panicked. I locked myself in my bedroom.
Because the house was very old and wonky, there were gaps between the door and the doorframe, and I ️was worried I️’d be seen if I just hung out in my room, so I️ lay on the floor under my bed.
I️ laid there for well over an hour, analyzing how pathetic I️ was, but couldn’t bring myself to get up out of fear that the cleaner would realize someone was home and there would be an awkward encounter. At one point, they tried to enter my room, and I️ held my breath while I️ watched their shoes through the door gap.
I️ continued laying there for THREE MORE HOURS until they finally finished.
I had Asperger's when I was a kid. I guess I still have it, but it's barely noticeable now. Along with the Asperger's came very strong social anxiety. The school I was at didn't quite know what to do with me because I could do the work well, but I was being harassed badly. So they decided to send me to what we called work experience.
It was a couple of weeks in a year where, instead of going to school, you do what's basically a short internship somewhere. It was to give you a taste of how the world works after school. They sent me off for work experience for what ended up being three months.
They just kept sending me back out to different stores once I'd completed the weeks at one place. At the first place, I was too anxious to ask to go to the bathroom until I was in pain from not going. By that point, I'd peed myself a little. Once the wet spot got larger than about an inch or two across the front of my pants, I'd ask to go.
But before then, I'd duck down between the aisles of this electronics store and check. One day the manager called me into his office. He chatted with me for a bit. Then he pointed to the CCTV screens above his desk.
He said, "See those? Pretty cool, hey? On these, I can see everything that goes on in my store. Anyway, catch you later. See me if you need anything". It wasn't until years later that I realized the horrible truth. He was subtly explaining that he could see me checking my pants every day.
I mean, subtle social interactions weren't exactly my strong point. Programming computers was, but that wasn't much help there. It was a pretty cringey moment when I realized he could see me the whole time and not only that, but after he nicely tried to tell me this, I just kept doing what I was doing.
At my small office, I went to the bathroom to fix my shirt, which I had worn inside out. When I went into the stall, the bathroom was empty. As I flipped my shirt around, someone walked into the stall next to me. I also used some toilet paper to wipe my nose and dropped the paper in the bowl, which triggered the auto-flush sensor, and it flushed.
My predicament began when I realized I also had to pee, but since I had already used TP and flushed, my twisted mind decided this would seem really weird to the person next door.
"Why would someone use the bathroom, flush, and then stand up and pee again?" said no one ever. But I couldn't because I thought they might recognize my shoes and know who I was. So instead, I hatched a clever deception.
I left the stall and washed my hands to seem normal, despite the fact that I hadn't even used the bathroom. After drying, I walked loudly to the exit and opened the door into the hall. Then I said, "Oh, excuse me," like I had accidentally bumped into someone else coming in and walked right back in.
I made sure to change the sound of my footsteps walking more quietly so that the stall-man would think I was a different person and not some freak playing bathroom charades. Then, I went to the urinal and peed and then rewashed my hands, using the farthest sink so he couldn't spot my shoes.
I went into a store I used to work at expecting to see my coworkers so I could greet them. A lady was there, but I had no idea who she was. She asked me if she could help, and I stuttered a no. Then, I stood, and kind of tapped my feet around like I was a tap dancer. I tried apologizing but instead said, “I, uh....I’m not looking for you”.
She looked so confused, and I could feel my face getting red. I literally ran out. I didn’t just walk quickly; I ran and slammed into the door and hurt my arm. Though injured, I trudged on. I heard her call out and ask if I was okay as I ran out. Now I can never go back.
I'm a retail cashier. A woman was buying a dress and humorously stated that she might be too fat for it. Never one to disagree with a customer, I smiled and said, "Yup!" I burned a few calories hitting my head on the counter after that exchange. She didn't catch it right away, but as she walked off, I think the penny dropped.
I was left to wallow at my register for the remainder of my shift.
A woman who lived in my building had a severe limp. Once, while running late for my morning train to work, she was limping very slowly ahead of me. I had to get to my train, but I didn't want to race past her or stop and keep pace. Instead, I turned around, ran half a block in the opposite direction, and around the block, still trying to make the train.
I got to the platform—but here's the kicker. The train was delayed. The neighbor arrived a few long minutes after, and I had to say hi to her anyways, but now I was a sweaty gross mess.
I was in a dance class a few years ago, and we had to do improv. Everyone there was a WAY better dancer than me, so I had a difficult time just with that. My teacher gave us five minutes to come up with a dance to a whole song, and you'd have to perform it in front of the class alone.
I noped out of there, ran, and hid in the bathroom. My cell phone was still in the classroom, but at that point, I didn't care. I decided to sneak out the front door of the studio. However, there was a small problem with that. The walkway to the parking lot was in front of the giant windows of my classroom.
I decided to duck down and run the best I could, hoping no one saw me. I made it to the car and had my dad run in and get my phone. I didn't return to class for a few weeks after that.
I was picking up my little sister from school. I didn’t have anything better to do, and I didn’t want her to have to wait in the long car line, so I got there 40 minutes early. About five minutes before school let out, she told me she was going home with a friend.
I was scared that the people behind me in line would think I was creepy if I just left the line after all that time. So, I pretended to be on the phone, got out of my car, and rummaged through my trunk while acting like I was angry at the person on the other end of the call, complete with annoyed arm movements and all. I then got back in and drove off.
After work, I decided to get a drink at a bar. I was teaching night classes on a side of town I was not used to. Even though I do not watch most sports, I went into a random sports bar and sat alone.
It was getting late, and I thought I should go home when a random guy turned to me and said, “Hey, this Texan’s game is good,” and told me something football-related had happened.
Pretending to know football stuff, I said, “Yeah, these dudes are dope! The Texans are in for some trouble if they mess up!” He replied, “FINALLY! Someone on my side!!” The guy bought me a drink, and we were now best friends.
It turned out we were the only fans of whatever the other team was in this bar, so we bonded over our outsider status. I had no idea what to say, and as the night went on, he kept buying drinks. By then, I had pretended to like football for too long to come clean, so I ended up watching the whole game.
Our team lost. I didn’t get home until midnight.
I'm from Ireland, which is a Catholic country. I delivered pizzas, and one night a woman said, "God be with you," as I was walking away. I stumbled over my words and said, "Peace be upon you," like I was the pizza Pope. I cringed pretty hard, walking away as she just looked at me.
On my last day of work, they had a goodbye thing for me, and they wanted me to give a speech. At the time, I was 28 weeks pregnant with two days to pack my entire household into two moving cubes to move to the other side of the world...so the speech went badly.
I stood in front of everyone and was like, "I must start this by saying I hate speeches and presentations. All I can think about are boxes. All of these boxes. Empty boxes, which need to be filled before Monday morning, and it is midday on Friday. I sleep and dream about these boxes attacking me. Box size five mainly". People just stared.
I am pretty sure they laughed, but my brain has that moment of silence burned into my memory which made me panic. I quickly ended off with, "Thank you for the opportunity to work here," and shuffled to the side.
I was at my little sister’s engagement party. I am not normally socially anxious, but I was going through a rough time and couldn't deal with a house full of people I didn't know. The party was at my now brother-in-law’s parents’ house, and most of the guests were from his family’s side.
I am male, but the first person I spoke to, I stuck my hand out and said, "Hi, I am Vicky's sister". I got flustered and tried to backtrack by saying, "Erm, I mean sibling...I'm a relative". Because I had made that mistake and got flustered, I repeated it about four times that afternoon, topping it off by saying, "I'm Vicky's sister…I mean, she is my brother".
I had to pick something up from someone's house and was desperate for the loo. I didn't want to ask to use the bathroom in their house, so instead, I picked up what I needed, rudely rushed through small talk, and basically ran to my car.
I drove far enough away where they couldn't see me, then parked again and half-wet myself running into a bush. It wasn't even the first time I'd been to their house.
A school friend of mine had invited me to a party at his house. The only person I knew there was him and two other people from my school who I was not on the best of terms with. The party was taking place on the roof of his house, and it had an open setup with a small room that contained a bed and a TV.
I was tasked with bringing a console for the party and setting it up in that room. When I went in, I realized that the TV couldn’t be connected due to the lack of an HDMI port. However, at that moment, I heard music and hooting. The worst of my fears had come true.
People were dancing in a circle, and everyone was being pushed into it one by one. So, naturally, I stayed in that small room for the remainder of the party—around two hours.
One year in high school, I didn't have anyone in my lunch period that I was friends with. So instead of making friends with the other kids there, I'd eat really fast, then say I had to go study in the library, and would instead just wander around the halls until lunch was over. Except you weren't allowed to roam the halls like that because other kids were still in class.
So, I had to sneak around to avoid any teachers or hall monitors seeing me. I spent a lot of that time going from bathroom to bathroom, just standing there waiting for time to pass. I didn't actually go to the library because I didn't want to spend my free time studying, so sneaking around was honestly more appealing to me.
I had to leave someone a voicemail, so I wrote out exactly what I had to say and read it like a script when I left the message. Something about making calls really got me anxious, and I would forget what I was going to say, or it would just get jumbled, so scripts helped.
Even though I am better at calls now because of my job, I still suck sometimes. A few weeks ago, I called someone named Tom at my workplace and began with, "Hi Megan, this is Tom". Oops.
I’m a speech therapist at a school, and I️ went to talk to one of the teachers about a student. I just so happened to find this teacher incredibly attractive at the time and tried to avoid him in the building so I wouldn’t embarrass myself by blushing or stumbling over my words. I️ went to ask him about the student for a minute or two.
Then, I turned around to leave the room, missed the door by about a foot, and walked straight into the wall.
In middle school, I’d give lunch money to a friend and ask her to bring my tray to me so I wouldn’t have to walk through the lunch room. I’d also ask people to take my tray back for me once I had finished eating. Even worse than that, in third grade, I got super nervous when people would see me eat. But that still wasn't as bad as my fear of choking.
I’d only eat ketchup packets. I always loved ketchup, and I guess it was a way to get some sort of salty flavor that reminded me of food without actually eating anything solid. People would give me their ketchup packets, and I’d eat like ten or more at lunchtime, and that was it.
If we had something good, I’d sneak it into my pocket, and once back inside the classroom, I’d sneak it into my backpack and eat it at home that day. For some reason, my fear of choking was much smaller at home. I was an odd kid.
I had a job interview for a talent show, so I stopped at a music store to buy a harmonica. I had never played a harmonica in my life. My technique was so bad, on top of having nervous and shaky breath, that I ended up playing mostly high-pitched or flat notes that had absolutely no flow.
After I was done, they looked at me expectantly, and I was just like, “Heh, heh, that's it”. They gave me the saddest round of pity applause ever. I still think about this moment while lying awake at night and cringe. However, I got the job.
I recently moved to a new city, and there was a Subway across the street from my complex. I decided to go there for dinner and wanted to get a footlong for that night and another one for the next day. However, I'm a big guy, and they wouldn't believe I wouldn't eat them both in one sitting.
So, being the idiot I am, I ordered one for myself and had my phone out, pretending to get an order from my "brother". I’m pretty sure they knew and pretty sure they judged, but the joke was on me, though. I ate them both in one sitting anyways.
I was at the mall, not intending to spend much money at all. I was by myself, and I tried to avoid all of those annoying mall salesmen that desperately try to bring you over to their booths. Well, I looked at one of them and ended up spending over 100 dollars on a nail kit because I was too anxious to say no.
My friends think I’m an idiot, and honestly, I couldn't agree more.
There was a car full of five guys on the highway next to me. We were the only two cars on the road at the time, going the same speed. One of the guys in the back noticed me, then commented to the other guys to look over, too. So, they're talking and laughing and waving, pretending to clench their chests and whatnot.
I was so flustered by the attention that I didn't realize that I was slowly drifting my car into their lane until I inadvertently ran them off the road. I'll never forget the looks on their faces as they changed from amusement to sheer terror. It was part "Is this a joke?" Then, "What is she doing?" mixed with, "Oh my God, we're gonna die".
I couldn't stop it, though. I was no longer in control; my shyness was.
I was at a grad school interview and was scheduled to meet with a particular professor for 30 minutes. We ran out of things to talk about after about 20 minutes. I am not good at making eye contact, but confident people make a lot of eye contact, right? So, I continued making eye contact with the professor for about a minute with no words being said.
I was constantly thinking, "Don't break eye contact. What should I say? Don't break eye contact…this is horrible," until I came up with something meaningless to say.
I used to have crippling social anxiety to the point where even interacting with a cashier would make me nervous. It's much better now, but I do remember there were many instances where I’ve said some pretty awkward things or showed improper body language.
For example, in college, I was sitting in the common office area for my job as a TA. I saw one of my coworkers talking to his friend. For whatever reason, I thought the proper way to get his attention was to rudely interrupt their conversation by screaming across the room and saying to his friend "Hey you! Stop talking".
I did the stop sign hand gesture to her, and then I proceeded to ask my coworker a question, all with an awkward cocky smile and everything. They both looked so confused, but my coworker decided to answer my question instead of calling me out for being rude.
I even knew at the time that what I did was awkward, but I just didn't know how to express myself, and even my body language was wrong. Luckily, I've grown a lot since then and don't do weird things like that anymore; I’m mostly functional in social settings.
A bunch of kids were having get-togethers after we graduated 8th grade. I wasn't friends with everyone, but I got invited to three different parties. I lived within walking distance of them all. I got a ride from my dad to the first one. He dropped me off outside, waited for me to walk in the front door, then drove off.
Once I got inside, I didn't see any of my friends or people I actually talked to. Thankfully, nobody noticed I got there, so I just walked back out and started walking to the other party, which was about five blocks away. As I got close to the house, I was like, "I probably don't know anyone there either," so I turned around and started walking to the last party I was invited to.
As I was walking down the block of the last party, I could hear people talking in the backyard, but I couldn't recognize any voices. I paced up and down the block a couple of times to try and hear a familiar voice, but I didn't.
I then walked to a park close to my house and climbed a tree, and just sat there thinking about all the fun I could be having. I waited in the tree for a while—long enough to make it seem like I was actually out at these parties—climbed down, walked home, and told my parents I had a good time. Then I went and played Starcraft for like five hours.
One time, after puffing copious amounts of the devil's lettuce, I went to go buy some nachos at a local Mexican fast food place. It was a Thursday night, so it was slow, and I walked right to the counter. The two ladies working started talking in Spanish and laughing, so at this point, I started getting nervous.
I started to order, and they kept talking and giggling. Now all I could think about was what they were saying about me. Then, one of them asked me what kind of beans I would like, and without thinking, I blurted out, "Steak". It was pretty much a gong show for the rest of the order.
I had just changed schools when I was 13 and was trying to make new friends. We were all sitting at the lunch table when this girl named Autumn sat down with a salad; the dressing was really weird looking. I loudly told her, "Melted, that looks like Autumn cheese". Everyone looked at me like, “What on earth did you just say?”
I tend to mix up whole words or several letters in each word when I get nervous. Gotta love social anxiety; it keeps things interesting.
I had a friend invite me to a party a short walk from where I lived at the house of another friend. I lit up a smoke and started walking there. When I was outside, I texted her to say I was there. She knows I’m socially anxious, and I don’t want to walk in alone.
I was just standing around on this lawn, and some guy who was standing at the doorstep kept eyeing me. If I wasn’t so awkward, I would’ve just introduced myself, made a quick friend, and gone inside with him. Unfortunately, I just stood there weirdly on the lawn.
The dude went back inside, and I could hear him just screaming across the party that there was some dude on the lawn. He must’ve said it five times. Finally, my friend came out and told me to go in. When I walked inside, about 50 people were just staring at me, and the dude who was yelling was just grilling me.
I just turned around, walked out, and closed the door behind me. I don’t even want to think about how odd that looked because it just makes me cringe.
One time, when I was a kid, I was calling up a girl I liked to ask her if she wanted to hang out. Her mom answered the phone, and in my awkward teenage bumbling, I messed up BAD. I asked her mom if SHE wanted to hang out. I'm still not quite over that one, nearly ten years later.
I had been playing baseball for about ten years and decided to try out for my high school team. I went to months of weightlifting ahead of time. I was doing okay at tryouts, nothing special for a freshman, but well enough to make the team.
On the last day, I was going to be 10–15 minutes late because a class I was in was on a field trip that day. The coaches said it was fine and no big deal. I got changed in the locker room for the last day of tryouts, went to walk out the door, turned around, changed back into normal clothes, and sat on the front steps of the school until my dad showed up.
I was too overwhelmed by the idea of being the kid who walked into tryouts late in front of the whole team. I haven't played baseball since.
My boyfriend’s ex-bandmates came knocking at our door unexpectedly one night. We’re the type who don’t like uninvited guests just turning up at random and need to mentally prepare before anyone comes around, so we panicked.
We switched all the lights off, turned the TV off, muted the phones, and hid out in the bedroom for the ten minutes they knocked for. When they finally left, I stood straight up at the window to make sure they had gone, expecting I’d be 100% invisible since it was dark out and our lights were off.
Well, outside, there was a street lamp on which lit up my face, and they stopped in their tracks. They stared at me, confused for about ten seconds while I literally slow-mo human-elevatored until I was out of sight below the window. We met up after that, but no one ever mentioned it.
My boyfriend is introverted with pretty solid social anxiety. One day, I got home about two minutes before him. We had a tandem parking spot in the apartment garage, so we parked right in front of each other. I parked my car and trekked back to the elevator bay. I saw him drive by me toward our spot, waved at him, and continued walking to the elevators so as not to get run over.
I heard him lock his car as I got to the elevator bay. I turned around, and he was nowhere in sight! I leaned around to see if he was just obscured by a truck or something, and about 30 seconds later, I saw him peer out from behind a pole. He had seen me walking but didn’t know it was me.
He hid behind a pole to wait for the “unfamiliar person” to go up the elevator before walking to the bay himself, so he wouldn’t have someone potentially trying to make small talk with him. He was a pretty dark shade of red when he realized his error.
My wife and I tried to do something nice for another couple at Target. There was a mother and father with two young boys ahead of us buying various household items and school supplies. The kids had both picked out soft lunch boxes and handed them to the cashier at the end of the order.
When the cashier gave the final total, the mother was shuffling through the cash and realized she didn't have enough for the lunchboxes, so they had the cashier void them, and then they left. Seeing the kids not able to get lunchboxes for school made us reflect on all the times in our lives someone helped us, or we had a stroke of career luck, etc.
We had the cashier ring up the lunch boxes, and then I ran out to the parking lot to try to give them/sneak them into their cart. I was not prepared for this interaction and hadn't calculated how they might take this gesture since it could also come off as condescending.
I handed the dad the bag and said, "Hey, you forgot these," with a wink. His response gutted me. I think he thought I pilfered them or something because he said, "No, dude, they had to be voided".
I don't know if it was his tone, but it deflated all my confidence, and I just sort of accepted it, apologized, and then ran back into Target with the lunchboxes, which we then had the cashier void for a second time. When I have a few drinks, I like to tell this story as self-deprecatingly as possible, so I can try to get through the shame.
When I was about 13, my outdoor cat went missing. Our neighbor heard us calling for it and told us he was pretty sure she was in his backyard, so my mom sent me over. My neighbor met me outside and brought me to the cat. I immediately knew it wasn't her because she didn't have her collar; the cat was differently colored and huge.
For whatever reason, I didn't tell him any of this. Instead, I said, "Yep, that's her!" I picked it up, and it was growling the whole time. I brought it all the way home and into my house. My mom saw the cat and was like, “What on earth?” I helped her shoo it out, and that was it. She hasn't let me forget it.
When I was 11–12, my dad took me to one of his friend's birthday parties. He made me read the road map to know what exit to take; I guess he thought it would be a good learning experience. This was back before cell phones or anything digital. He got mad when we missed the exit he wanted to take because I was trying to figure out where to go.
We finally got to the party, and I stayed in the car because I was crying and didn't want a bunch of adult strangers judging me. He was there for hours and never checked on me once. I took a nap with the windows rolled down. It's nearly 20 years later, and I still get anxious figuring out directions when I'm on the road.
I have to load Google Maps even when going to my friend’s house, which I've been to a thousand times.
I went to buy tea once. I hadn't gone to buy tea in a long time, and I thought 1,000 grams of tea was a reasonable amount, forgetting that that was a kilo of tea. I went up to the front desk person and asked for my kilo. She didn’t bat an eye and started filling the tins for me. The ball hadn't dropped for me yet.
Right before she finished filling the last tin, I realized my terrible mistake. She rang me up. It cost 250 dollars. I was too embarrassed to tell her my mistake and say no, so I bought it all. On the plus side, it was quite good tea.
When I was seven, I went number two in the bathroom. My oldest brother's friend went in after me and made all of these comments about how girls shouldn't poop like that, how I was gross, and I should be ashamed of myself. The consequences still haunt me.
I grew so self-conscious that for several months, I wouldn't poop until I was in extreme pain. And even then, I usually had accidents in the middle of the night, would clean myself up, and throw the underwear and everything in the outside trash.
My dad, instead of getting me a counselor or trying to help me, shamed me and called me disgusting, which made it worse. It wasn't until my aunt sat down with me and said everyone does it, girls and boys, and that if anyone shames me again for it, then they're just jerks.
I still have a poop phobia where I can't poop in other people's bathrooms or if there is another person in the public bathroom with me.
I used to be a cashier at a take-out restaurant/shore shack at my local beach. We had a really huge menu with all types of food and also sold tons of non-food items such as beach chairs, umbrellas, toys, sunscreen, hats, sweaters, you name it. I had a guy come in once and ask me, “Hey do you guys sell any msnsgskrl?”
I couldn’t understand the last word of his sentence as he sort of mumbled. Instead of asking him to repeat himself like a normal person, my brain just went blank and I said, “Let me check,” before walking towards the back. As I took a few steps away, I realized I had no idea what to do next.
I was supposed to be looking for something or asking if we sold it, but had no clue what it was. I also couldn’t go back now and ask him to repeat himself because I already pretended to hear him.
So, I decided to walk to the kitchen in the back, eat a few French fries and then come walking back to the register to tell him apologetically, “No, sorry, we don’t”. He gave me a weird look and said, “Really?” I reassured him that we don’t sell whatever it was, and he left confused. I still have no clue what he was looking for, but we most likely sold it.
My college boyfriend moved to New Zealand shortly after we broke up. He was my first significant boyfriend, which yielded some complicated feelings. He had a going away party at a local bar that was about a 40-minute drive from where I lived at the time. I drove all the way down and looked for his group from the car.
I saw them, my heart started pounding, and I turned around and went home and never saw him again. I lurked on Facebook one day, and he’s now married with two kids. It’s crazy to think that could have been me.
Sometimes, I’m dumb and pull up to the wrong pump at the gas station. Then, I look around to make sure that no one is watching. If they are, I sit in my car for a few minutes pretending to do something. Then, I drive away and leave because there’s no way I’m turning around to go to a new pump and be “that person who can’t park their car correctly at the gas station”.
I was a kid in about second grade or so, and it was the end-of-the-school-year DJ party. There was some kind of "dance in a circle" thing going on, and "I Just Can't Wait To Be King" from The Lion King came on. The DJ called on random people to guess the song.
I got called on and knew the song, but was too shy to answer, so I just stared at him until he called on someone else. It still haunts me with intense embarrassment.
When we were in high school, my friend's parakeet had a seizure while I was visiting him. The bird managed to get his head lodged between the couch cushions and snap his own neck. It was so awkward because the whole family was there and understandably upset. My friend and I went outside to bury the bird.
When he pushed the clump of dirt down to pack in the little grave we heard a muffled “CHEEP”. My friend started to dig the bird up frantically, thinking he wasn't really gone. At that point, the awkwardness was too extreme for my over-emotional high school brain, and I completely lost my head.
I started laughing uncontrollably. I was on the ground, holding my tummy, shrieking. His parents were watching the whole thing from the window. They didn't know what to make of it. The bird was indeed gone. My friend still thinks I'm possibly evil for my lack of compassion.
I was at a picnic with some friends. About 10–15 people turned into 50–75 people within an hour. Enter extreme anxiety. I went up to the grill to get a hot dog. A cute girl walked behind me to get one, I noticed, and I started sweating. Barbecue homie handed me my hot dog, and I was so nervous I dropped it right onto the cement.
I didn’t think to get another one, so I picked it up with dirt all over it, took a bite, and walked away.
When I was about eight, I once hid from my family when they came over for the holidays out of fear of interaction. I hid especially from one of my cousins, who was socially aggressive and just made me really anxious. I had nowhere else to hide where there weren’t people, so I went into my bathroom and hid under the sink. BIG MISTAKE.
I just planned to stay there as long as possible. My cousin—the aggressive one—came in, took a long and winded poop, and then left. I just stayed there and am, to this day, even more terrified of interacting with him. I saw nothing, but I heard every sound.
I was heading over to my buddy’s house and was going to be meeting his girlfriend for the first time. I assumed they were alone for some reason, so my social anxiety was low. When I walked in, there were 15+ people. Many were extended family who I didn’t know, so they wanted to meet me immediately. I was totally taken off guard.
I finally got to my buddy and his girlfriend. He introduced her by saying, “This is my girlfriend, Shannon”. I looked her straight in the eye, and while shaking her hand, I said, “Hi, my name is Shannon”. This happens all the time. People will introduce themselves to me, and I’ll introduce myself using their names. It’s awful.
My mom never told me how her best friend died. Years later, I was using her phone when I made an utterly chilling discovery.
Madame de Pompadour was the alluring chief mistress of King Louis XV, but few people know her dark history—or the chilling secret shared by her and Louis.
I tried to get my ex-wife served with divorce papers. I knew that she was going to take it badly, but I had no idea about the insane lengths she would go to just to get revenge and mess with my life.
Catherine of Aragon is now infamous as King Henry VIII’s rejected queen—but few people know her even darker history.
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