January 4th, 2022
When I was teased, or made fun of, or laughed at growing up, my dad would tell me to laugh with them. Or, if I could, laugh at myself before they had the chance.
That sentiment is terrible for a child. But it’s advice I take more to heart every day I get older.
I think there is a general idea that the things you keep private give you power; that your secrets are cards in your hand that give you some ineffable advantage over other human beings.
I’ve learned the opposite is true for me; that the more I share about myself, the less power others have over me.
I share things like the fact that I’m a better person when I don’t drink, that I’ve made really bad mistakes, that I’ve hurt the people I love but some of them have chosen to keep loving me, anyway — those are the kinds of things we lock away in a closet with the hope that nobody discovers that extra door at the very end of a very dark hallway.
Being honest about myself — sharing and then laughing about the things I hate about myself before anybody else gets the chance to — has both saved my life and given me a life worth examining.
I remember getting picked up at school when I was really young, and I couldn’t stop crying, completely inconsolable. My dad asked what was wrong.
Referring to some kids in class, I told them, “They said my parents were deaf!”
“Am I deaf?” he asked me.
Well, yeah, I replied.
“Then why are you crying?”
I kept crying after he said that. Maybe because that was the moment I realized that the world is both beautiful and cruel, and often simultaneously.
But I was probably crying because he was right. The truth is hard. But accepting it, being honest about it, and being able to laugh at it can be the easiest thing you ever do.
Being serious is for the immature; the best wisdom comes from the oldest clowns.