Johnny’s World: One in a Million

June 5, 2014 8:54 AM5 comments

jworld“So, how are you?”

“Fine thanks. I’m so excited to be here.”

“You, er, were great, er, with your fashion at the Olympics.”

“Thank you so much! It was such a honor to be there.”

“Oh, ok, nice meeting you!”

This little conversation may seem completely benign. Essentially it is, however it begat the inspiration for this column. I have learned, not for the first time, but certainly the first time I’ve noticed, that the worst thing in the world is not to be embarrassed yourself, but to have to be in the presence of someone who is so utterly embarrassed for and by you that they start stuttering like a star struck young girl.

This conversation was with a 50-something gentleman who worked on the stage crew of a television appearance I was doing. The conversation was innocuous enough. The awkward gentleman was no different than most people I meet in my life’s goings on, aside from the fact that he was embarrassed, not just nervous. That morning, nude photographs of me were released to the tabloids of America.

When I woke up that day in the hotel and got a phone call that this had happened, I did what anyone must do, I cried for precisely five minutes, I slapped my sunglasses on and went to work. In my life, and especially my work life, there is constant opportunity to make a fool of myself, understanding that fact is how I am able to carry on without really caring much of what anyone thinks of me.

Over the last 29 years of being Johnny, and especially in the past six months while going through a very public divorce, I have built a very thick skin, and generally speaking, I am able to deal with my emotions privately and without much fuss. It’s when you have to start dealing with other people’s feelings that things get a bit hairy.
The uncomfortable position of knowing someone’s secrets is not an enviable one. When you are meeting someone for the first time, it may be difficult to think of anything aside from what you’ve heard or seen, like what I’m sure this man was thinking…ass…ass…ass…”So, how are you?” Even with your family and friends, knowing something about someone that is unsavory can totally distract you from your very real friendship or love, so why not just put it out there?

As a tactic, I like to bring up uncomfortable things right away, just so we can move on. For the rest of that workday I simply started conversations with people saying, “So hey, did you see my ass this morning?” This of course got a wide-eyed, unsure reaction, “Yeah.”

“Oh thank God, I was looking for it everywhere.”

The burden to lift the weight of these moments lies on the one who is supposed to be torn up, not the helpless bystander. The more uncomfortable you are with something, that sensation will of course rub off on your neighbors and make them just as uncomfortable. Life is full of humiliation, secrets and embarrassments, so why not deal with them head on and get rid of them?

I can tell you as someone who’s been embarrassed in front of millions of people all at one time, it’s just as hard to deal with that pain with those billions as it is with just one onlooker. There is no difference. Whether one person knows your secrets and looks at you with those glazed over, self preserving stares, or a million people take to micro blogs and start scrutinizing over your botched bikini wax, the pain is just the same.

There are times when we all fall victim to self loathing and the “woe is me” attitude, however it’s in those moments that we all must realize that the thing tearing you up today will seem like a piece of dust on your lifetime achievement reel. There is no pain in this world that we can’t fight on our own, there is no situation we can’t overcome, yet you have to make the personal choice to overcome it.

My name is Johnny Weir. I have succeeded many times but I am just as proud of many of my great failures. I failed to win a medal at the Olympics, but I went twice and skated the performances of my lifetime. I failed to have a successful first marriage, but I allowed myself to love. I have naked photos on the Internet, but my body is nothing to be ashamed of.

The moment we start owning our mistakes and finding that silver lining is the moment we move forward. Trust no one with your secrets, they are yours alone and you can accessorize them any way you choose.

 


Johnny Weir is a three-time U.S. figure skating national champion and two-time Olympic competitor

  • Trish Aaron-Misiura

    I’m just pissed that I haven’t seen said naked photos yet. ;) You’re an amazing human being, Johnny!

  • Jane McGee

    What a powerful statement of the human spirit! I was introduced to Johnny during the 2014 Olympics. I have found his strength an inspiration as well as his work ethic. You don’t get to go to the Olympics and finish in the top 5 and not be focused and driven. Johnny did it his own way. I like that it might have cost him a medal or two but he was true to himself.

    I love the line “we all must realize that the thing tearing you up today will seem like a piece of dust on your lifetime achievement reel” (Johnny Weir) I wish I had learned that a long time ago in life. I think it is a great way to live life.

    Johnny thanks for sharing your story, your heart, your insight and how you are moving forward. You are a trailblazer and sometimes it get’s “HOT”.

  • Lady Lisa

    It sure was sad hearing about the divorce and it seems so unfair. But at least there aren’t any children involved, so that uncomplicates it a lot. And also, at least you didn’t have a big, fancy wedding, which would have been all for nothing in the long run, so that’s a lot of money there that you didn’t spend, which is good, so believe it or not there are some more positives here than you may have thought. I am not an extremely religious person, but I do believe God is always testing us, in one way or another. It’s all one big circle of life-learning, for you, and everyone else, and I believe you can take what you’ve learned from this, and evolve from it, and in time love will come again. The things you’re learning now can only strengthen your abilities to be a husband and father in the future. I’m proud of you for dealing with this in a non pity-party way, because that’s not the way you deal with life. And I like the way you made some humour out of it by asking others if they saw your “a** this morning” and that you were looking for it everywhere – such a smart way to get the topic out of the way, so proud of you for the way you dealt with it! Now, there is a saying that my mom taught me as a kid, and I still hold it closely today, “Be nice to everyone. Trust no one.” This saying can work for you too, Johnny.

    Moving on, your Kentucky Derby hat was SO lovely and you looked so perfectly powerful & polished in white! Thanks for always entertaining us! So proud of you! And just loved the Hermes scarf you wore, too. Thought it could have looked nicer worn loose over the shoulder though. But maybe better not loose so the horses wouldn’t be attracted to it? Got to wear scarves more often though, they suit you Johnny!

    And I have to say “Smile” has been my favourite run through that I’ve seen you post. Watching “Smile” I sensed less of a checklist and more of a story unfolding. The beautiful flow to it just sets it apart from the other run throughs you’ve posted, for me.

  • Lady Lisa

    Does anyone know? If I want to send Johnny a Happy Birthday card, well where could I send it? Or is a girl just dreaming? Thanks!

  • cyberonion

    I have not seen the nude picture(s) and will not look for it/them. I respect people’s rights to privacy (and also never buy/visit tabloids). On the other hand, I reserve the right to be star struck. Thank you for a frank, sensitive, dignified column. Square your shoulders and keep marching/skating to the sound of your inner drummer.

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