Happy April Fool’s Day! I don’t know about you, but I’m absolutely useless when it comes to playing practical jokes… and telling jokes full stop, to be totally and completely honest! I either give the game away by giggling too soon or I screw up the punch line, and my go-to joke is the one about the panda who goes to a restaurant and eats shoots and leaves. The one thing I am good at, however, is laughing at myself. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to play the most ridiculous practical joke on myself while I was refilling a cook’s blowtorch. When I (stupidly) decided to check whether it was working and pulled the trigger, the lighter fumes ignited and I was momentarily consumed by a ball of fire that not only burned my fingers but also singed off most of my eyebrows and a lot of my hair. After the initial sobbing shock and cries of “my hair!!!” (and the call to NHS Direct to see if I needed to hop it down to A&E…) I did what I always do after I’ve done something stupid; I laughed long and hard over what an utter nob I was.
There’s nothing better than having a good ol’ chuckle, is there? Even when times are tough having a laugh about it – y’know, a proper tear-streaming, snorting, rib-aching, gasping for air kind of laugh – is better than any kind of medicine. And self-deprecation (or “self-defecation”, as I used to call it until someone stepped in and corrected me… yeesh…) is the one woman stand-up routine I’ve been performing since I can remember. I slip into it so easily these days: if someone compliments my anything, I’ll launch head-first into a bit where I take out a metaphorical magnifying glass and hover it over every flaw I have and can think of. Like, the dog hair clinging to my brand new black jeans, or my vampire skin that’s hilariously allergic to fake tan, that ketchup stain on my new shirt, my flat chest, my misbehaving hair and *tap tap* “Hey, is this thing on?” I’ll downplay my own achievements and shrug them off as pure luck – as simply being in the right place at the right time – because – come on now – there’s absolutely no way this train wreck is capable of achieving anything on her own other than maybe inhaling three cream eggs in thirty seconds.
Har de ha.
And I know I’m not alone in this. We’re all guilty of slipping into that old routine in social situations, aren’t we? Whether we’re with our mates or with a whole crowd of new faces – it’s an easy way to seem more human – more relatable – to come across as humble instead of arrogant and therefore more likeable. In theory! But are we harming ourselves in the process?
If I’m constantly poking fun at myself and telling other people that I can’t cook to save my life, that I only wear flats because I look like drunk giraffe in heels, or that the reason I got that big promotion was completely down to luck rather than my own hard work, I’m going to start believing it myself. And for what? To spare someone else’s ego? To be liked? At that point we’re not self-deprecating anymore, we really are just self-defecating – shitting all over ourselves and our achievements! And that ain’t cool, my friend!
I came across some sage words of advice on how to own your achievements and talents a while ago and it really stuck with me. It’s basically all down to learning how to self-deprecate in a self-aggrandizing way. I mean, you’re still poking fun of yourself – but you’re doing it in a much kinder, more positive way. For example, instead of rolling your eyes and telling yourself and others “I can’t cook to save my life”, laugh at that burned slice of toast and declare proudly, “I clearly need my own cookery show – watch out Nigella Lawson!” Next time your eyeliner’s wonky or you’ve gone in too hard with the blush, don’t pull the ol’ clown face gag out the bag – just have a chuckle and say, “Nailed it.” Or the next time you send out an email full of mistakes (and to the wrong person – yikes!), instead of coming down hard on your writing skills just laugh and say, “Hey, I was clearly robbed of that Pulitzer.” It’s a small switcheroo that’ll help change your mindset and have you owning both your flaws and achievements in a more positive way.
Let’s have a good ol’ laugh at ourselves without being the fool.
Anyone played any good April Fools pranks today? The closest I got was Sunny politely informing me at 6.30am this morning that our toilet was backed up and spilling over – hilarious! NOT. Have a great week! 🙂