Yesterday I told Charlotte I didn’t want to be like the protagonist in Hans Christian Anderson’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. “I don’t want to do something embarrassing,” I told her, “and not know that it’s embarrassing.”
Of course, I was referring to my novelette where I own up to specific failures. She looked at me incredulously. Didn’t have to say anything. I could read her thoughts: Uh, if you don’t want to be embarrassed, why write embarrassing things about yourself?
Good question. In education theory, we call this cognitive dissonance, the uncomfortable feeling that comes when holding conflicting ideas or values.
I don’t want to be embarrassed. What sane person would? On the other hand, I’ve decided there are worse things than embarrassment, for instance, living one’s life afraid to be genuine, always needing to put on a mask to appear better, or braver, or holier than one is.
Does this resolve my cognitive dissonance? I wish.