My name is Lena and I’m a blusher.
This blog post is very close to my heart and I’m putting myself in a fragile position by writing about this matter. But I’m aware of the fact that many people deal with the same problem and that it can be paralysing. So today I wanted to write about my personal experiences in the hope that you will find some relief in my story.
As you can see, I am a person with a very pale skin tone and I am blond. This automatically makes me more vulnerable to blushing, and to sunburn. I have always struggled with the fact that I blush for all kind of emotions. Happy, laughing, angry, embarrassed: my face will flush. I find it annoying that my emotions are so visibly rendered on my face. (I even get red when I sneeze). The hardest part is when you start blushing and the person next to you says: “Wow, you are getting red” and is joking about it. One of my family members is guilty of this and has teased me for years about it. It is embarrassing.
It has been very difficult for me to speak in front of large groups, to start new jobs, to date my boyfriend because of this problem. You know the long hair + scarf-combo? I’m sure you’ve done that too.
There were two things in particular that almost made me hyperventilate (actually, the list is a looooot longer, but I’m not going to list all of the social situations that make me anxious because that is not what this post is about! 🙂 ). The first thing I was terrified of, was check out lines in the supermarket. I can see you thinking: why on earth would that frighten you? Well, there was a sense of being trapped in between customers (in front and behind me) while waiting for it to be my turn. It is especially the bright lights at the cash register that felt so violent. I would be waiting nervously in line, turning more and more red, until I felt like my heart would explode.
The problem about this, is that I would start getting nervous beforehand. My inner voice would go: “Oh my god, oh my god, I am going to blush, people will see it, it is going to be horrible!!”. And of course, by panicking beforehand, I would blush. And as time went on, it only got worse.
The other thing that was truly difficult for me, was giving presentations in front of groups of people. I’m sure you feel that way too, right?! During high school, I never really had to give presentations, so it wasn’t really a problem. But during my time at university, especially in my third bachelor and in my Master’s year, we had to give a lot of oral presentations. I would almost avoid certain courses because presentations were mandatory. At some point, it became inevitable and I knew I had to give a presentation, so I started seeing a therapist to get some help.
During these sessions, it became clear that a lot of unresolved anxiety issues were connected to the blushing problem. But my therapist gave me some good tips with regards to handling social situations, and that made everything more manageable. I’d like to share them with you, and I hope you will see some small progress as well. Here is the first tip:
- Visualise the situation beforehand.
By this, I mean that you should visualise your presentation a few days before D-Day. You picture exactly how the presentation will take place: picture yourself getting into the room. Next, picture yourself sitting down at the desk and starting the presentation. Picture yourself taking a deep breath. If you stutter, or if you get nervous, just pause. Tell yourself: “I will not get nervous.” By repeating the process in your head a few times, you will become more relaxed about it and it will impact the way you feel during your presentation. The visualisation excercise also helps with blushing. If you know you are going to be in a situation in which you might blush, visualise it beforehand and picture yourself not blushing. I now this all sounds kind of weird and vague, but just give it a good try, you’ll be amazed.
2. Rehearse the presentation at home.
Speak out loud in your room, give the presentation a few go’s. This is super helpful because you will know when to build in a pause, what words will be difficult, what pace to keep. I had practiced a big presentation that was about 30 minutes long at home for a few times. When the day came, I still felt nervous but I aced my presentation. But most of all, I was surprised and delighted when one of my co-students told me I was so composed and calm during my presentations.
These two tips made a tremendous difference and I was able to keep everything under control during important times.
Now, when it comes to dating… I must admit (and I don’t feel very proud about it) that the first year or so of my relationship with my boyfriend Christiaan was a bit difficult. I would wear my hair loose so it could cover my face, and never wore a décolleté without a scarf because I knew I could get red patches in my neck.
Now the good news is: I got over the check out line panick attacks, I got over my anxiety of speaking in front of large groups, I got over my fear of blushing in front of my boyfriend. How did I do it? I applied those tips to daily situations, and I let some time pass. If people started teasing me about my blushing, I would call them out. I would explain that it is not a joke and that it is actually something that makes me very nervous, and that they were only making it worse.
As I got older, and was confronted with more difficult situations (new jobs, meetings, talking to clients), I got more used to it. The more you practice, the easier it will get. I still blush from time to time, but I just let that happen. I’ll think: “ok, I’m blushing, no big deal” and move on. I still feel cornered from time to time, but I know that it doesn’t define me.
I believe you can make this change too. I believe that you will get over it, just as I did. I believe in you 100%! I know you can do this 😉
Happiness. Do it yourself!