Many of us have experienced the ‘walk of shame’- Covered in bar tar, the stench of redbull, glistening chemical sweat, often with a foreign taste in your mouth, is a scenario of no impossibility on any given weekend (or weekday- results pending).
Not to say all walks are the same. Each is unique, and each is completely about perspective: The main factors that contribute to this are: A) distance, B) judgment, C) outfit, and finally, D) adequacy of sex vs. level of hangover.
With so much in the balance, how to survive it can be your own personal Mount Everest (the physical actuality can feel not too far off unfortunately.) as all of these elements combined are a formula for feeling either a winner or suicidal.
Let me break down the components of a walk of shame for you; firstly, the distance it takes from a location (where you have found yourself) to your home/safety area is the main factor in acquiring how hard the walk is going to be. A simple walk across the road and your almost proud, as logistically there was no chance of shade being cast on you by your fellow city dwellers. If it is 3 tubes, a delay and 2 changes, then you start lingering over everything and anything that might or might not have happened the night before: The world opens up to either become fantastic where anything is possible, or a grim, grey and hazy reality that is cold and dead to the touch.
If you have just had a night of perfection, no awkwardness, then the journey can sometimes even be pleasurable, spending time to reminisce about your encounter, feeling like the Carrie Bradshaw of your own Itv run of ‘Sex in the City’. It is this window of time that, though short lived, can make such experiences exciting and appealing,
However, a flat fuck and a long journey home is not a good time.
These all contribute to the shame. How many people stare, how many people we think are judging us. This also includes flat-mates/friends that catch you stumbling in, or text you fearing for your safety, and enquiring how gross you feel – not out of compassion, but to cement just how bad you should really feel). We don’t like people feeling good about themselves- this is why walks of shame are in the public arena, and are open to judgment; It isn’t the paranoia, or smell of alcohol, it’s the feeling within. The feeling of guilt, that you are doing something that you shouldn’t be doing. Shame, alongside guilt is a powerful trigger that can root deep- and almost always is acquired by what we think others think of ourselves.
I myself have received ridicule for my running around town, getting it in. That heavy guilt within, is worse than any walk through London in the rain wearing sunglasses, worried about other peoples opinions on me, my own personal judgment on myself, it is hard when you’re not even rooting for yourself. To say I’m proud would be to say I’m more than satisfied by all the nameless dealings I’ve had. Which let me tell you, is not the case. Whoever claims that their sex life is always great should be ashamed for lying to your face. I wish I had fewer partners, as sex is and should be, about quality not quantity.
We are conditioned to think that casual sex is a bad thing. ‘One night stands’ ‘Walk of Shame’ ‘Hook ups’ and ‘No strings attached’ all inspire connotations of doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Reckless, irresponsible and hedonistic behavior is not to be encouraged. My argument isn’t whether casual sex it is right or wrong, but more that it is going to happen anyway – so why let people enter your reality of an event they were not part of. Sex is fun, sex is great, and why should I pretend to feel bad about doing it – and doing it well.
The degree of attention on your outfit alone is a decision you have already made from the night before. You either went out in an outfit/jacket that can blend in with the cosmopolitan surroundings, which means your night look is easily transitional to the next day. However, when you have gone out in a strong statement outfit (from personal experience of making my way across London in just jeans and a silver cape) you just have to grin and bare it. Own the journey home, like you owned the night.
The only way to counteract these factors is to not feel shame, but take it in your stride. You just got your end in, so act like it. Enjoy the walk. Enjoy the journey. Reminisce about the encounter you have just had, consider if you want it again. Maybe even seek out others in your tube carriage who are also fighting their own battle, give them a knowing smile.
The only reason a walk of shame is shameful is because of its name;
It is in fact a time to reflect, compose and act upon what you want. Change how you think and you can change how you feel. Get yours. After all, walking is progress, it is a “walk of shame” we are talking about – It is about the journey not the destination, isn’t it?
by Samuel Collins
Originally published on Lujon Issue 1