I'm flaky. When people compare me to fictional characters, Phoebe on Friends has come up more than once. There is an episode where, in the course of an argument, Phoebe points out the faults of Monica and Rachel and they fire back, calling her flaky. Her response? “That's true. I am flaky.” Completely comfortable with herself, she doesn't even find it an insult. Ever since I first saw that episode, I've been actively working to embrace the flaky within me. My friend Bethany even painted me this mug (in which I now drink my daily coffee).
As a flaky person, I say stupid stuff, forget things too often and -- most embarassing for some reason -- miss freeway exits on a weekly basis. And my heart sinks with self-hatred deep into my stomach each time I realize I've driven too far. If a friend told me she responded this way to something as silly as missing a freeway exit, I'd be horrified. Why is it OK for us to lift up our friends but continually abuse ourselves? So lately, I've started treating myself the way I should. I laugh it off. I lovingly joke to myself, “There I go again!” And then I give myself a big loving hug (not literally -- I mean I keep my hands on the steering wheel). And you know what? I think I've embraced the flaky.
I admire eccentric people. I love their quirks. I am able to laugh with them and love them even more because of these things. And, you know? I kind of love that I miss freeway exits now. It's part of what makes me more wholly me. It's stupid and funny and usually annoying, and I love me for it. It makes me more whole, more real, to have flaws. And more authentic to embrace them with humor.
However, there is a fine line between being able to laugh graciously with yourself and using humor as a weakly disguised way of insulting yourself. I suppose the difference lies in how you feel about it. Do you crack a joke in the hopes that you'll beat others to the punch; as a way to preemptively protect yourself from negative comments from friends or family? Or is it coming from a place of affection, the way you might lovingly tease a sister or your partner?
I find that each time I learn a new philosophy, I become very serious about it, unable to accept or even understand jokes on the topic. I think this is largely because of the way I understand things that are deeply important to me. I hold them sacred while I feel my way around these new ideas, trying to understand them inside out, figuring out where I fit within them. Only once I've made comfort with them can I move into a lighter place and allow joking back in.
In terms of self-love, I think this may be an important step. Just stop making jokes about yourself. Period. Take yourself seriously. Take your body seriously. Allow yourself to get to know you on a different level. Once you have become more comfortable with your whole self, inside and out (and, if you say nice things to yourself daily, you will become more comfortable), you may find the jokes coming back naturally, but this time without the sting. It will be a lighter, self-confidant, sort of joking. A humorous relationship between you and yourself that strengthens the self-love bond almost as if you are saying, “Yes, this is something imperfect about me, and it MAKES me more fully me. And I love that.”
Humor is important. Smiles make people beautiful. Laughter releases tension. Humor connects people.
Learn to laugh at yourself -– but do it from a place of love, never degrade yourself. You are too beautiful for that.
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