How I learned to embrace my chronic blushing

I suffer from a charming condition known as anxiety-triggered blushing. Around the time I started high school, friends and family began lovingly pointing out a neat skill my body developed to let everyone know just how awkward and uncomfortable my teenage self felt. A patchwork of bright pink blotches would spread across my face and chest, prompting whoever I was interacting with to ask me questions like “why do you look like a cartoon that swallowed an entire bottle of hot sauce?” and “ARE YOU DYING?!” It got to the point where I couldn’t even buy a pack of gum without my face turning pink when the cashier asked me cash or credit.

The trouble with blushing is this: everyone sees it. My face is like an embarrassingly accurate mood ring. It’s a pretty shocking transformation, particularly on my pale Irish skin, and its obvious when the person I’m talking to notices. We all experience moments of awkwardness and uncertainty, but when you blush everyone knows exactly what’s going on in your head. No matter how well you muscle through the panic, no matter how articulate you force yourself to sound, all anyone can see is your neon sign of a face flashing “LOOK HOW UNCOMFORTABLE I AM.” It’s a humiliating process that sparks a vicious cycle of anxiety.

My solution: live in a well-supplied bunker on the edge of town with a strong wifi connection.

Okay, not really. A girl can dream, though.

Honestly, I spent years desperately searching for a quick fix to my blushing problem. Some were useless (meditating) some were impractical and unhealthy (drinking heavily) and some were just too bonkers (surgery). Every rabbit hole I went down turned into a dead end, and I remained a big old Blushy McBlusherson. It was absolutely crushing, and I was starting to let it affect my happiness.

It wasn’t until a particularly emotional late-night talk with a friend that I finally got the solution I had been searching for. After pouring my heart out (and the last of our bottle of wine) about my embarrassing blushing problem, my friend looked me straight in the eye and said “why worry about it?”

I stuttered out what I’m sure was a very eloquent defense and fell into a drunken pout. What did she know anyway? She had perfect capillary-free olive skin! She didn’t know my PAIN. It took a few weeks with those words tumbling around in my brain before I finally realized how wise they actually were. Why did I care? My face gets red sometimes, big deal. The bottom line was that it didn’t really make difference once my blushing passed.

The awkwardness it caused me was temporary, and conversation could go on as normal once I let it go. I realized that my hang up on blushing was all in my head, and I was only making it worse by obsessing over it. We are all unique, and struggle with different aspects of ourselves that few people ever notice. Once I learned how to take a deep breath and let my embarrassment pass, I learned how to accept my blushing as part of who I am.

Bridget McGee is an assistant and aspiring writer living in Los Angeles. When she’s not working or obsessively listening to podcasts, Bridget spends her time writing short stories and screenplays. The only thing she loves more than watching bad 80’s action movies is her cat, Dean. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @bellasiel13

[Image via iStock]