The joy of not taking myself too seriously
I was recently having a conversation with a friend of mine about teenagers, and it led me to reflect back to being a teenager. One thing I distinctly remember about being that age was working very hard to be taken seriously. There is something about teenage angst (must be all those hormones flying around the place) that makes teenagers lose their sense of humour, think themselves mature and really take themselves seriously or at least – that is what I did when I was that age. I am sure there is some psychological explanation for all of this – finding identity etc – but as I have aged, I genuinely feel like it is really important not to take myself too seriously. In fact, I feel that the hallmark for me of actually feeling more mature has been my ability to laugh at myself.
Now I am not talking about that self-deprecating, let-me-insult-myself-before-someone-else-does-it-laugh-at-myself. I am referring more to the ability to laugh at my mistakes, and my "flaws", even the technical things that used to make me so furious! For example, I know that I have mentioned my tendency to have kitchen disasters. I remember several years ago making a chocolate cake to take to a dinner party as dessert, and taking it out of the pan too quickly, and it cracked in half. I cried – yes literal tears! I was absolutely crestfallen, and my flatmates at the time had to send me to bed, and salvage it with icing (icing covers a multitude of sins). This story in a nutshell would describe to you what an intense perfectionist I was, with no ability to see the funny side of anything. And while I am sure that my friends might argue I am still a bit of a perfectionist in the kitchen now, but I definitely laugh a LOT more than I cry these days.
For me, the ability to laugh at myself has come almost as an internal icebreaker to me when I am in a tightly wound space. I usually laugh out loud, which in itself breaks the spell of anxiety or tension inside (although sometimes it does draw strange looks from people) and I am almost convinced that act of laughing aloud in itself makes me think more clearly about solving the problem at hand. It has made me more flexible in my approach, and for me has signaled an increased ability to salvage a mistake or not get too stressed out about it. It is probably one of the single biggest contributors to this blog – my ability to laugh at my mistakes also allows me to see the lesson in the mistake instead of focusing on the mistake. This ability also helps me to see the big picture instead of having tunnel vision. And I read somewhere that the very act of laughing a good sincere heartfelt laugh can actually improve your mood – and it most certainly does mine.
The thing about this ability to laugh at myself is that I don’t remember it ever being a goal or aim, and I have no idea how it happened. One day, I was taking something out of the oven, and it fell on the floor, and I burst out laughing! It seemed to be something that happened gradually over time, as I grew to realise that life isn’t black and white, that maturity for me was about developing humility and being ok with being wrong (because it teaches me so many more lessons than being right) and that there are more important things in life than the perfectly baked cake. It is probably my favourite hallmark of getting older, and I can look back and laugh at things that I have done and said, in the past, as well as in the moment. Laughter truly is the best medicine.
Big love from a small island!
Ps - another baking "disaster" above - I was trying to make fidget spinner cookies. They did NOT spin. They didn't even stick together... But they were deeeelicious!!!