Self-Consciousness in Public

I have a hypothetical scenario that I’m sure all of you have encountered at some time or another. Suppose you’re walking down the street. For the sake of argument, it is a decently busy street in a city somewhere. As you’re going along, you have a sudden realization. “Crap! I’m walking in the wrong direction!” Now, be honest with us, how are you most likely to proceed? Will you simply spin around and go the right way, as any rational person ought to? Will you spin around, but smack yourself on the forehead, just so anyone watching will see that you aren’t an insane dancer, but rather just made a silly mistake? Will you proceed to the end of the block, take the crosswalk to the other side and then reverse direction, knowing that no one would be watching you long enough to realize your foolishness? Or, being utterly unable to admit error, will you just keep walking until you circle the globe and arrive at your location that way?

I have to admit, when the crosswalk isn’t too far away, I’ve used that to reverse direction.

I’ll look at something in a shop window and then just go the other way when I leave. Or I’ll mess with my cell phone for a minute so it looks like I had some good reason to change direction.

Kind of silly, huh?

Keep walking and snicker at the sheep.

I would just turn around and go back the other way, with no change in my facial expression or anything. Let 'em wonder.

Just turn and walk back. That’s why I moved to the city to begin with. If you’re not actually naked, then there’s no need to feel self-conscious about much of anything walking down the street surrounded by strangers.


I just realized that you meant walking in the wrong direction relative to where you meant to go, not relative to the flow of pedestrian traffic.

Oh, God. Sometimes the sheep snicker silently back.

If I’m just walking along a typical street, I’d probably just stop momentarily, turn around and walk the other way.

I have to admit, though – if this happens while I’m in a hallway in my office building (outside of my company’s suite, in the presence of complete strangers), I do something along the lines of the :smack: maneuver. I’m not sure why I feel a greater need to “explain” my sudden about-face in that situation…

Just turn around and walk back. It took a few weeks of living in New York to realize that I am, in fact, invisible, and would have to resort to self-immolation to cause anyone to bat an eyelash.

However, I’m naturally self-conscious, so there’s probably a quick flash of embarrassment on my face as I’m pivoting.

It’s OK, Hal. I’m sure they’re laughing with you.

I have honestly never thought about this.

If I have to make a U-turn, I just do it. Most of the people who know me would assume that I realized something more important than the thing I was currently going to is in the opposite direction. Sometimes that more important thing may be a bathroom, maybe I forgot my keys, sometimes it may actually be important. For the people who don’t know me, let them think I’m crazy.

And a light breeze rustles my hair.


I assume the whole world doesn’t care and I turn around. No fuss, no muss.

It’s a long-running joke. Since you mentioned sheep, it’s a reference to this thread started by Hal Briston

Since I work in a small town where a reasonable % of the population know me, I usually look at my watch before reversing. :wink:

I usually involuntarily snap my fingers and spin around 180 degrees.

Probably just turn around.

Instant 180. No hesitation. I might do a :smack: but that’s aimed at myself for being such a klutz, not to justify my actions to whoever might be watching.

I unselfconsciously do an one-eighty, but carefully in order not to bump into other pedestrians going in either direction (I hate, hate, hate people walking around not paying attention to others. Almost as much as I hate people standing in the way).

Curious that - I am a very self-conscious person overall. But I quite often walk back and forth on purpose, so that might account for it.

I would turn around and go where I wanted, likely not even considering that there may be others watching or even thinking about what they may think.

It is pretty common for me to be wrapped up in my own thoughts and have even stood behind someone that I know well in a grocery line without spotting them.

I have no sense of direction and I’m not good at remembering how to get to places, so I often find myself going the wrong way. I’ve walked by the same people several times while attempting to find my way. I don’t care and I’m sure they don’t care either. I used to be very shy and I thought that everyone was aware of what an idiot I was. The truth is, nobody is paying attention to you. There’s no reason to be self-conscious.