Sometimes I know it is going to happen. There is nothing I can do about it except to tell myself to keep breathing normally, and usually I touch my face to try to cover it. You would think that if you know it is going to happen that you should be able to avoid it. Not the case.
I found out I was a chronic blusher when I started working at a restaurant as a server. If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you know how it is behind the scenes: yelling when an order gets messed up, lots of name calling, lots of joking, and lots of fun.
I knew it would be risky to take on this job because I am an introvert. I don’t like to interact with new people or make small talk — so what was I doing here?! Well, my best friend got me the job. She said I would do well because 1. She would be there for support when I needed her and 2. I am polite and personable, so this, she thought, would equate to nice tips.
As I was learning my way around the kitchen and the menu, I of course made mistakes and had to talk to the cooks. I don’t remember the first time one of the guys made the remark, but I remember how often I was asked this question throughout the almost two years I worked there: “Why are you blushing?”
No one had ever asked me this question before. I suppose I have always been a blusher, but I hadn’t realized until that point how obvious it was.
Or how painful it is to hear that question.
How do you answer that question? For me, it can be multiple different things. However, at that moment, I imagine that I blushed even harder and just turned around and ignored it.
My coworkers never let my blushing go unnoticed. They always called me out, and it always made it worse.
Why Do I Blush?
Blushing stems from being embarrassed, but for a chronic blusher, your embarrassment can be caused by the most minuscule of interactions.
For me, many interactions at work cause me to blush, especially when I’m around the leadership team. I might blush because I have a question, or because I was asked a question. Maybe I was called on abruptly in a meeting, unprepared, so I stumble over my words and turn bright red.
When I was new to my job, I blushed when someone was being nice and introducing themselves, which subsequently, for months, led me to blush every time I saw that person.
It was mortifying.
I also blush around friends and family. My blush knows no bounds and is indiscriminate. A friend might point out that I have something in my teeth: cue the blush. A relative might say they are proud of me for getting a promotion: blush.
As if blushing itself isn’t bad enough, I sometimes get so paranoid that I am going to blush that I act weird, avoid eye contact, and end up blushing anyway! I really can be my own worst enemy.
Stop Bringing Up the Blush
I read that when others see you blush, most people ignore it and try to make you feel more comfortable — but I am not always that lucky. In a social setting, friends have pointed at me and said, “You’re blushing.” That just makes me turn more red.
I wish I could ask these friends and coworkers why they point it out. Are you embarrassed for me (I like to call this second-hand embarrassment)? Are you surprised to see me blush? Do you feel like you’re doing me a favor, like when you tell someone they have something in their teeth?
Because it doesn’t work that way. I have no control over it. I cannot make it stop abruptly.
Leave My Blush Alone
Please let the blushing be. Chronic blushers do not need you to point out their visible insecurities; we usually know it is happening, and we can’t stop it. We need you to look the other way. Ignore it. Continue on as normal.
When the attention is redirected from me blushing, it gives me time to breathe, drink some water, and cool down. This is necessary so that I can begin to rejoin the conversation, which is vital at work.
As much as I would love to run away every time I blush, we do not live in a world where this is possible. We have responsibilities that need to be taken care of, red faced or not.
When I notice other people blush, especially at work or school, I want to stop everything and tell them it’s okay. I want to give them the encouragement they might need to keep doing the task at hand, before the blush crept up. I know how frustrating it is to be interrupted by your own body’s reaction to embarrassment, just to forget what you were doing or get all jumbled up in your own thoughts.
Everyone has a different way of coping with the blush, but if you can help them move forward in a kind way, it can make all the difference. Some people might need you to pretend you didn’t notice them blush. Others might appreciate your warm (non-condescending) smile. I can’t speak for every introverted chronic blusher, but I can imagine they just want you to be kind.
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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an Introvert