Embracing the Embarrassing Parts of Identity

I knew when I sat down to write about guilty pleasures that it might be one of the more challenging journal responses for me. I don’t have many guilt-inducing vices, and I rarely let myself feel guilty about a particular small pleasure I choose to indulge in. In the time I have typed this initial paragraph, I have asked my husband which guilty pleasures he thinks I have at least three times.

“Potato chips!” He declared.

“You know we’re not the same person, right?” I retorted.

He looked momentarily deflated.

After staring at the blank screen for several more minutes, I asked him again.

“I don’t know!”

C’mon!” I wheedled.

“Well, you used to sometimes have chocolate as treats, but you don’t do that as much anymore.”

“Hmm.” Was all I said. Not very helpful. I don’t really have as many treats. More importantly, I didn’t really feel guilty about the occasional treat. That’s what makes it a treat.  

I ambushed him a third time. “You must have an idea about my guilty pleasures…”

“Buying ethically sourced clothes…” he hedged.

“Err, I don’t feel guilty about that.”

He fled into the kitchen. I was still stuck at square one:  a blank page.

I remember feeling a sense of dread when Alexandra suggested writing about guilty pleasures during a brainstorming session. What on earth would I write about? Sure, I like chocolate and cake (God, do I love chocolate cake), but because I don’t overindulge, I allow myself to enjoy the pleasure.

Such few things come to mind as a guilty pleasure that I solicited help from Alexandra, lamenting the difficulty of the journaling prompt for me. She had a good way of knocking me down a peg and making me laugh hysterically about it.

“What about reading young adult literature?”

“I do not,” I emphatically stated, “feel guilty about reading young adult literature.”

“Not even Twilight?” (I kid you not: you could practically hear the laughter in her eyes—yes, hear laughter from her eyes!)

“That was over ten years ago!” I hissed, scandalized at the suggestion of revealing reading habits from over ten years ago. Some things are meant to die and live in the past, like sparkly undead vampires.

“Well, I distinctly recall you telling me to never tell anyone you had read it.”

I was stumped there. I also probably laughed. After all, it’s true. I would never have readily admitted to a broad audience of people that ten years ago I read the Twilight books. I’m way too sophisticated for that kind of nonsense now. (#TeamJacob). At the time, reading Twilight certainly wasn’t a guilty pleasure; I most definitely had long literary-based conversations about the allusions that Stephanie Meyer used. I didn’t hide it, and I didn’t feel guilty about it. In all honesty, I may have also squealed a few squees that were far more fangirl than English graduate student who studied Old English.

Maybe the better term is that I am embarrassed now that I used to be someone who could fangirl about Twilight. I’m not interested in rereading the books or much returning to my life as it was then. I have changed and grown so much as a person since then even as I still remain friends with wonderful women I met in graduate school (and with whom I may have discussed Twilight).

Here I am in Big Bend National Park with hair that I clearly haven’t washed in a week, enjoying every minute of it.

Maybe ten years from now, I’ll look back to this period in my life and feel embarrassed about how I always have dirt under my nails no matter how hard I try. Or I might feel embarrassed about that “gratitude phase” I went through (I doubt it). Perhaps I might even feel embarrassed by how many dang eggs I eat every week. Ah! I know! I will finally feel the proper embarrassment that I went to go see Frozen by myself the day after it opened and the ticket taker gave me some serious side eye! Or, maybe not. I don’t know. I’m sure I’ll look back ten years from now and find something that screams “thou shalt not mention I read Twilight!” to future acquaintances.

However, this is the life I’m living now, this very moment. I don’t want to feel embarrassed or guilty about the things I love to do or that make me happy. I’m not sure when it happened, but I clearly gave myself permission to love what I love and just embrace it. Life is short. It’s far too short to feel guilty about what I love right now. It’s even too short for me to feel embarrassed that at 24 years old I was unabashedly Team Jacob. I can work on that. Err… not reading Twilight again. You know: embracing the embarrassing parts of my identity, especially the parts I’d rather forget.  

Responding to week six.



In addition to cultivating gratitude, mindfulness, and happiness, Rachel cultivates her suburban homestead and cares for her flock of chickens, her hive of bees, and her ornery two cats.

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