I should spend more time laughing at myself, I should spend more time laughing.

(I can’t believe I’ve never used that quote for a title before.)

A few weeks ago, Sarah talked about why she is afraid of thunderstorms. I get a little freaked out at thunderstorms (or any loud noises, really) when I’m asleep, but overall I like them, especially in the evening when they cool things off. And in the winter when a thunderstorm is supposed to mean snow. hehe. And, you know, I’m a little bit afraid of big dogs, and spiders creep me out, and when Mike goes out of town I usually sleep with the light on, but I can’t think of anything like what Sarah is talking about.

There are, of course, things that freak me out. Mine are just a little more internal. Like public embarassment. Earlier this week I pretty much made a fool of myself at work, and when I went to bed that night, my whole body hurt from tension. I couldn’t sleep. I was mortified. It wasn’t something that was a big deal, but I couldn’t let it go. Mike was pretty patient about it, but even he was like, “You have got to let this go.” And then I was afraid he was going to think I was being too much work (which . . . I probably was), and I was getting all neurotic about a simple mistake that anyone could make. That everyone probably laughed about and forgot. I mean, yeah, it was dumb, and maybe they do think I’m an airheaded ditz, but why does that matter so much?

Over a year ago, I said the following:

Mike says that when most people play games in a group setting, their goals are something normal, like having fun or winning. He says that my goal is usually just to not look stupid, but that no one is looking at my poor Nerts skills and thinking that I am stupid. I realize that it’s very egocentric of me to think that everyone is looking at me all the time. I think I can be pretty paranoid about not knowing how to do things, or not having information that other people have. I know why I feel that way (I suppose everyone feels that way to some extent), but it was definitely causing me to overreact. It’s funny – I am a competitive person, but, for once, I wasn’t upset about losing. I didn’t expect to win this game the first time I played it. I just felt a lot of unreasonable shame about being the only person with a negative score.

I spend a lot (and I mean a lot) of time trying not to look stupid. It’s pretty much always my goal. I tend to be afraid that I’ve got the book-knowledge covered, but not so much the common sense. I know that no one likes looking stupid, but I’m not sure where my fear came from that makes it the overarching goal of my life. If I had to speculate, I would say that it possibly comes from the fact that I know I’m not very extraordinary. I don’t have any musical abilities, or artistic abilities, or athletic abilities. The only thing I had growing up was that I was the girl who always made the best grades, the girl who read the fastest and the most, but those aren’t such important skills to have in the real world. No one cares about my GPA anymore (and, really, I am glad to say that I have mostly moved away from the stage of my life in which I defined myself by my GPA), which means I have to find other ways to be extraordinary, or at least to not stand out as unworthy. And as my definition of myself for so long included being the smartest, I control things as much as I can, I gather as much information as I can, I do everything as right as I can . . . so that at least I won’t look stupid. I might not be the smartest, but I can try very hard not to be the dumbest.

But, as Mike says, everyone looks stupid now and then, so it shouldn’t throw me off as much as it does. It’s not the end of the world. I shouldn’t be physically sore because I embarassed myself (unless maybe I embarassed myself by falling down a flight of stairs or something).

I want to be one of those people who can laugh at herself. Is that a skill I can learn?

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