For This I Believe
I believe in laughing at myself.
At times I feel sad because I am not the confident and extraordinary parent, wife, artist, friend, sister, daughter or daring athlete I want to be. This is the time when I remind myself to use some very practical coping skills I have observed. I learned these skills by watching numerous famous and not so famous people who have that marvelous ability to laugh at themselves and look at life through a humorous lens. Some of my favorite inspirations are my father, mother and Lucille Ball.
My parents were refugees from Hitler’s regime in Austria. They managed to laugh at themselves even while they lived under very difficult and challenging circumstances. Lucille Ball had the remarkable ability to perform, laugh at herself, and at the same time come across as a confident and happy person.
I have had many opportunities to practice this skill of laughing at myself. I would like to share two examples with you.
First, when I was in the 8th grade I decided it would be great for me to join a basketball team after school and learn to be a good “team” player. After learning the basics we were divided into two teams. I was eager to play, shoot baskets and make our team a resounding success. The coach blew the whistle and we went after the ball. Someone threw it to me and I dribbled proudly and fought off some opponents. In a flash I ran to the nearest basket, shot the ball and made my first basket! I was speechless and so was everyone else on the court. Suddenly a lot of people burst out laughing. The coach, trying to conceal a huge smile, said loudly “Great shot Toni, but it was for the wrong team!” Although I felt pretty dumb I managed to laugh with everyone else.
A second memorable learning experience occurred in Virginia. I had taken what I thought was a very difficult exam to be a postal worker. To my surprise I did well enough to get an interview for a job as a rural mail carrier. This is very funny because I have absolutely no sense of direction. I was however feeling quite smug and proud of myself and interviewed at a small post office in rural Virginia. Feeling good about my prospects I got up to leave and said “Good-Bye.” With a sweeping, flamboyant gesture I opened the door and found myself staring into a big broom closet. I laughed casually and closed the door. I still remember the bewildered look on the interviewer’s face. I did not get the job.
I hope someday to be a confident, extraordinary, successful and happy parent, wife, artist, friend, sister, daughter and athlete. To help me stay on track and achieve this goal I intend to keep on laughing at myself.
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