I don’t remember many things from when I was little but one of them sticks out: one evening, I must’ve been around 11-12, I decided to write a letter to the guy I had a crush on. I’m not sure why but either mum or her boyfriend at the time realised it wasn’t my usual quietness they were used to. So they asked me to show them what I was doing. I remember feeling pretty satisfied with how the letter turned out so I didn’t object. I gave it to them and waited for praise. You’re probably guessing right, I never received it. They laughed instead.
“You can’t be serious” Joe said.
“I am” I said. I was shocked at the reaction and I was stubborn.
“You can’t give it to him” mom added.
“It’s ridiculous. You’re a girl. You can’t write to a boy like this.”
They were both in agreement. One thing led to another and mom tore the letter up.
“Forget it!” she said. “Just talk to him!”
“A letter…” they would say laughing even some time after that.
I think the memory stuck because it showed how much she didn’t get me – talking to anyone outside of my close circle was always out of the question.
Because they could (would) laugh at me.
It’s a horrible fear of mine. Not being taken seriously, being found ridiculous is even lower on the scale than walking through fire. (Theoretically of course. I’ve never walked through fire.)
Many years later when I was working as a serious management consultant at the young age of 25 or so, I needed to make a good impression at a first meeting with a unit head of a bank. I was nicely dressed, high heels, suit, seriousness and professionalism, prepared with the questions etc. so it went well. At the end of the meeting he walked me to one of his teams who was on another floor. It was but the last step of stairs that did me in: I fell on the ground without any trace of womanly grace, literally flat on my stomach. It was like time slowed down and my thoughts were super-quick but I couldn’t move my body enough to even lessen the impact. To the guy’s credit he was more worried than laughing but our mutual respect had a serious fallback (pun intended). Since then I always hold on the rail by the stairs as if my life depended on it. Only because I don’t want to feel ridiculous.
It’s the same in many other areas and I believe I could probably lead all my problems back to this one simple fear: not wanting to be laughed at.
So guess what? This week I’m going to do all kinds of uncomfortable things that I’m not good at or sure about – I’ll even try to make you laugh just so that I can experience that the world (even only just my world) won’t end after a little laughter at my cost.
I’m super-super anxious of course but as they say “no pain, no gain” and I’m also kinda excited to try new things. We’ll see how it’ll go! 😉
Do you have any bad experience about being laughed at?