I Blush

Even to say it sounds like a dirty word.



I don’t just blush when someone gives me a compliment and I’m trying to be coy. Or when I feel uncomfortable in a conversation and don’t know how to gently excuse myself. Or when I know I’m saying or doing something contradictory to my best interests and haven’t yet summoned the courage to flee.

The burn in my cheeks may come at those times, but is more likely to arise at a time of self-doubt.

In all reality, I know what to do when someone says “you’re all baby.” In other words, they don’t think I’ve gained half my body weight (which I pretty much have) at seven months pregnant. Rather than politely disregard their viewpoint in my internal monologue and continue to feel like an overstuffed armchair, I attempt to internalize their words and give myself credit for the small healthy decisions I make every day. I accept the compliment and move on. No blushing necessary.

When someone begins gossiping or putting someone down, I usually know how to act. Rather than pretend I am above the thoughts resulting in their words, I respond honestly. “It’s hard for me to have a meeting with her too, because gets so angry when things don’t go her way.” And steer the conversation in a different direction. “What’s for lunch?” I engage and divert. Quality human interaction tools. Blushing not required.

In times of self-sabotage, as in responding to a man’s inappropriate attention, I again know what I should do. This hasn’t so much been my personal challenge in the last seven months (being pregnant is an excellent reality check), but the tendency to allow men’s advances to flip an internal people-pleaser switch has often stumbled me.

I respond not because I’m genuinely interested or attracted, but because he wants me to. It’s a role and I want to play it right, to make the face or use the words to keep the flirtation going.

Rather than playfully reply to a text asking if I miss him because he didn’t attend the last community group meeting, I ignore the message. Realizing he only wants the satisfaction of reaction—the thrill of the chase—I deny myself the attention derived from being good prey. I choose self-protection. Blushing optional.

Knowing is not always doing, of course. If it was, we would all be much more likely to achieve our goals and maintain our relationships. We often cerebrally realize what we should say or do, but allow the human effects of pride and desire to affect our otherwise sensible nature.

I don’t blush when I know what to do (whether I follow my best judgment or not). I blush when I feel unsure.

These times arise when those around me may least expect it: while addressing a board meeting, standing up for a community group team member, reading aloud a personal essay I worked hard to perfect but know isn’t perfect, or telling my boss I need time off.

I’m still working to be comfortable being kind to myself and giving myself the credit others so willingly bestow.

I used to let the hot flush stop me. I knew those in front of me could tell. Witness to my discomfort, they would not take me seriously. They would think I was as unprepared or unworthy as I thought I was.

Truth be told, I am more confident in what I’m saying and doing, more ready to put my comfort on the line for my own well-being, than ever before. I am better able to speak through the sensation of heat creeping from my chest to my face without quickening my words. I have learned to remain cool-headed despite the pesky bright red tint of my neck, cheeks, and ears.

I now opt to make the blush part of my charm rather than accomplice to my self-interference.

Giving myself permission to blush is giving myself permission to grow.

2 Responses to “I Blush”
  1. Nadean says:

    So interesting! I have found that my blushing has increased over the past few years, but I relate to so many of the things you shared. It is typically when I feel unsure, or vulnerable. I love the approach you are using, and hope to incorporate more of that into my world. Thank you for this article!

    • Ruth Cassell says:

      Thank you so much for reading, Nadean!! This is something I’ve known about myself for years…I’ve tried to mitigate, ignore, pretend doesn’t affect me. But, it does and I’ve decided embracing it is the best thing I can do. That, and attempt to know why I feel vulnerable and deal with myself on that 🙂

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