Oberlin Blogs

Surviving Embarrassment at Oberlin

January 22, 2019

Hanne Williams-Baron ’19

When I used to read the Blogs as a prospective student, I quickly constructed ideas of the bloggers as somehow wise, beautiful, talented, intelligent, driven, and totally infallible. Now that I’m a blogger, and also a senior, I know that on good days we may fit some of these characteristics...but the rest of the time, Obies are just as awkward, messy, and loveably absurd as the rest of the world.

In order to combat some of the pedestal nature of the Blogs, and the highlight-reels we sometimes show, I will now present you with 5 of my most embarrassing moments from undergrad. Enjoy!

1. The Conservatory Burp From Hell

In my freshman year placement audition for Aural Skills, I burped so loudly mid-song that both adjudicators laughed out of shock! I was able to start the piece over, but because I was so nervous, I got super flustered and continued making strange, abnormal mistakes until I eventually just stopped singing, curtsied, and left the room. Looking back, I ended up really enjoying Aural Skills I, and I definitely needed to be in the beginner level of the course. With such a supportive professor and class, I was able to manage the classroom vocal tests with much more ease than my initial audition, and I left my first semester feeling way more confident in my skills than I was pre-Oberlin! Whenever I reminisce about how far I’ve come, I think back to this moment and all my curtsy-ing glory. Oof.

2. We Don’t Serve Coffee At This Coffeeshop

In my first few months working at the Cat in the Cream Coffeehouse, I for some reason never learned how to make coffee. In my first solo shift, I panicked because I didn’t know how to work our coffee grinder, and ended up telling all the people who came in for coffee that we didn’t have any...despite us being a literal coffeehouse. It haunts me to this day. I am now good at making coffee. I promise!

3. I Definitely Did Not Do The Reading Today

Halfway through the semester, in one of my hardest classes, I sadly showed up to class without having read one of the assigned texts. (Although none of us like to admit it, this does happen sometimes and it is survivable, although not recommended!) Despite my dramatic hopes and prayers that I could cruise through class unscathed, I was called on quite quickly to give my take on the reading. Instead of coming clean about not having gotten to the material, I tried unsuccessfully to talk my way out of it...and my professor immediately called my bluff! Luckily, I burst out laughing, my professor followed suit, and what could have been a totally humiliating academic moment turned into something silly and relatable. And it definitely scared me into getting the rest of my readings done.

4. Ketchup Twilight

I once went an entire afternoon with DeCafe ketchup smeared across my neck like vampire blood!!! Sometimes you just need a boca burger to get you through the day...and sometimes you eat that boca burger really quickly while running across Wilder Bowl...and sometimes said burger grazes your throat like a lover...and its ketchup-y kiss stays there until your advisor points it out four hours later. Not cute.

5. Hiding In A Shrub Like Sean Spicer Except I Am Not An Oppressive, Passé, Gum-Swallowing Ex-Press Secretary

I don’t think I will ever age out of responding to basic human challenges in exaggerated and ridiculous ways. It’s what makes me unique! Just last semester, I glimpsed someone I was avoiding from the corner of my eye. Instead of simply smiling and walking away, I sprung into action. Full fight-or-flight mode hit, but instead of picking one, I chose...both? Ok, I’ll say it. I jumped into a shrub outside of Dascomb. The person I was avoiding proceeded to have a conversation with a friend for 10 minutes, so I stayed in that shrub for much longer than anyone should ever hide in a shrub. Why, you ask? I don’t know. I just don’t know. It was very itchy and I think I stepped on a worm.

There you have it, prospies. Oberlin will not make you perfect. It will not make you undefeatable or buff (unless you join cross-country) or completely confident and smooth in every situation. But I do think I’ve learned to roll with the punches, forgive myself for my shrub-jumping, and come up with ~creative~ responses to the challenges I face.

And always remember: if a burp ruins your audition, you can always curtsy and excuse yourself. It worked for me, and I’m now the best shower-singer this side of the Mississippi.

Au revoir,


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