Do we grow out of self-consciousness?

(written in response to Can’t Stand Me)

Blushing has always been a problem for me. When I had to speak in undergraduate seminars I would feel the red flush spread from my neck to my face and chest as I staggered through what I had to say. I didn’t feel nervous, I didn’t stammer. My only feelings were a desire to express my thoughts and a desperate hope that this time I would not go red. But I always did.

These days I usually only notice it at the end of a conference presentation which, while still horribly embarrassing, is at least not distracting. I find that when I have something I want to communicate, I concentrate more fully on my paper and my subject, and my self-consciousness just floats away for about 15 minutes.

I still hate watching or hearing myself back. And I hate the idea of others listening to recordings too. But I push through it, and, in the interests of self-promotion, link to podcasts and photos of myself, telling myself that it has to be done.

(Like this horrible one that I only found when I googled myself in google images. Very much regretting wearing the boots with that dress…)

I have heard that self-consciousness, or hyper self-awareness, is a function of the frontal lobe. The reason older people don’t give any f*cks is because of deterioration in their frontal lobes, i.e. brain damage.

In some situations self-consciousness can be good. The idea of others’ eyes upon me, as an object of interest, as I just go about my daily life, can awaken me to the reality of my life, of my existence in the world – and remind me to put some makeup on, or change my food-stained sweater…

I think I’m going to embrace self-consciousness. I’d rather that than brain damage.

Do you have any thoughts about self-consciousness and self-promotion in academia? Leave me a comment below.



2 thoughts on “Do we grow out of self-consciousness?

  1. Boy, can I relate to that red-neck, totally flushed face! In response to your question, no thoughts from the professor’s viewpoint, as I’ve never been in that position, but as a student, certainly, I felt that self-consciousness, especially as a non-trad among mostly younger students.

    I once gave a presentation in speech class about a subject so personal (part of the assignment) that my mouth went totally dry, tongue-sticking-to-the-roof-and-sides-of-my-mouth-with-every-syllable dry. How I wished I had a glass of water! But I was shaking so much, I’d probably have spilled it. Those speeches were taped, and we were given a copy. I was surprised to discover that, despite my extreme discomfort, my voice came out strong, the speech filled with conviction and passion.

    Btw, I love the boots with the dress.

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