Have you ever feel ridiculous? Ever been laughed at? Don’t answer that, if it makes you feel uncomfortable. I know these types of answers can be considered sometimes “sensitive information”. You don’t really have to answer, if it makes you feel awkward. I can do it for you and I will: yes, I felt ridiculous a number of times. Yes, I’ve been laughed at, and not only once.
Ok, so what? I don’t have any visible scars from being ridiculous (and no invisible scars either). Then what is really the problem with being ridiculous? Why this fear of making a “faux pas”? Why this obsession of avoiding to be laughed at in public (and not only)?
Have you ever saw an infant learning to walk? Noticed how he stumbles, fall, crawl and then get back on his feet again and start over? Everybody admires that. But what happens if you see a grown up doing the same thing? Suddenly, the stumbling, the falling and the crawling are ridiculous.
Being ridiculous means creating an unexpected and violent contrast between what you’re doing now and what you are generally expected to do. As a grown up you’re expected to walk steadily. Stumbling, falling and crawling will generate a huge contrast to this expectation. If you do that, you will be ridiculous. Similarly, an infant is expected to stumble and crawl, so he does not create any contrast at all between what he does now and what he’s expected to do. He’s just natural.
Every ridiculous situation is created from this contrast: you’re doing something surprisingly different from what you’re expected to.
This contrast creates a certain response: people notice it and react to it. Most of the time, by rejecting you. And voila, the answer to our initial question: people fear being ridiculous because they fear rejection. Being ridiculous is a social illness and it manifests only in groups, by the way. You can’t really be ridiculous when you’re alone.
As strange as it may seem, this rejection is somehow natural. If you’re showing such a big contrast from what you’re usually doing and what you are doing just now, society tries to protect itself. You’re acting differently, or at least unpredictably. And for the sake of its own safety, society hates everything unpredictable.
You Can’t Do Without It
Now, we all do our best to have a consistent social behavior and avoid those awkward contrasts. Generally speaking, society likes this approach and rewards us by giving back validation. When we’re not ridiculous, we’re usually respected and accepted. But what happens when we have no other option than to create this contrast? Because, believe it or not, we do get forced to become ridiculous. Yes, we do. You don’t believe me? Follow on.
Have you ever thought what exactly happens when you learn something? Well, whenever you learn something new, when you’re trying to acquire a new skill or implement a new habit, you’re in fact bridging a huge gap between the actual you and the next you, the one who’ll have that habit, skill or ability. When you learn something new, you create an unexpected and sometimes violent contrast between the current you and the future you. Starting to get my point? Glad you do.
When we learn, when we grow, when we evolve, we are ridiculous. We are so different from the person we want to become, that we simply cannot avoid being ridiculous. Remember when you first started to learn a foreign language? Or cooking? Or some sport? Remember your hideous accent, your tasteless, ugly meals or your clumsy, mechanical moves? Well, my friend, you were ridiculous. Really ridiculous.
Truth is, we all are. We’re all becoming better, we’re all evolving and each time we’re aiming at something much better than we are now, being ridiculous is absolutely mandatory. It means we’re getting there. We’re creating the contrast. We’re leaving behind something familiar and we’re stumbling upon a new territory. The biggest the gap we want to bridge, the highest our ridiculous meter.
When To Worry
As a rule of thumb, when you got used to being ridiculous, without really evolving into something new, you should take a step back. It means you’re no longer advancing. You’re on the same level, although there’s been a while since you started to do that specific thing. To continue our comparison, if you still stumble and crawl when you’re in high school, well, unless you have a serious physical condition, that should be a problem. You should really have learn how to walk by the time you’re eighteen.
Whenever you’re ridiculous not because of the contrast between your older, dustier version of you and the shinier, new version of you, well, you’re in trouble.
It means you’re not growing, you’re just funny, in a sad way.
How To Be Ridiculous
When I started to blog constantly in English, more than a year ago, I “enjoyed” a lot of ridiculousness. The main reason: my English skills. Which were poor, to say the least. Truth is I never had an English lesson in my entire life. Not a single one. All that I’ve learned was by watching movies, reading programming documentation and other blogs. I learned by absorption. And when you learn like this, you should expect some serious flaws.
Every now and then some of my readers are kind enough to give me some grammar or vocabulary advice. They expect me to be proficient in English and every small mistake is immediately spotted. Of course, in the process, they make fun of me. Lately, since this blog really picked it up and became popular, I have some “spelling nazis” hunting for my English blunders and vocally announcing them on Twitter or in their blogs.
My reaction: I’m happy about it. It means this blog created such high expectations that every small mistake is by contrast unacceptable. I’m really, really happy about that. Oh, in the process, I’m also aware of the fact that I’m being ridiculous. Which means I’m getting there. 😉
I think by now you realized that every time you will want to grow, you will face this danger of becoming ridiculous. Well, live with it, it’s part of the deal. And yes, you will face rejection, that’s also part of the deal. What we call society, this group in which you are living, keeps a certain memory about you and when you grow you will violently change it. You will become different (hopefully, better).
To this new image of you, society reacts by questioning your status quo: “hey, you’re not the guy I know, but you’re not his newer version either. Who are you, funny guy?”. Just keep doing what you’re started and do whatever you can to become your better version, until you force society to acknowledge it. At some point, after you get better and better at what you’re doing, it will have no other option than to accept and validate your new you.
Being appropriately ridiculous is an art. The art of accepting your own mistakes. The art of keep growing until you’re not making them anymore. The art of daring to become so differently from your older version that sometimes you won’t be recognized anymore.
The art of creating an incredibly better you.
31 thoughts on “How To Be Ridiculous”
this is a great article! 😀 I’m ridiculous all the time -in what I say and what I do..and I’m ok with that
I can be very silly when I want to be and even when I am nervous in front of large crowds but once I break the ice with a joke usually directed towards myself the audience warms up and I stop feeling as if I am going to throw up my breakfast – lunch or dinner.
I would say I am more silly then flirty. More Gracie then George.(Burns and Allen)
Great article and your English is great by the way.Often Thumper feels something was lost in translation but I understand him perfectly ;D
.-= BunnygotBlog´s last blog ..Sleeping With Your Business Partner =-.
Love this article.
After decades of self improvement and personal growth seminars the most enlightening course was a comedy workshop. I was SO SERIOUS. I knew I needed help and this was the perfect solution. Our material? Our most embarrassing moments and the things we hate most about ourselves.
Think about it. Amusement is the highest vibration of energy. Laughing at ourselves is the highest form of amusement. Ridiculous is funny. You do the math. Ridiculous works!
It’s full of excellent advice and I take it personally:-)
I admire your ability to tackle so difficult subjects in a manner that seems so natural!! Congratulations!
.-= Madalina´s last blog ..Cautâ€¦dar unde? =-.
Being ridiculous is something that I am very familiar with. I come from a family who are very quick to point out any ‘faux pas” so I learnt early on in life that I am always gonna make a boob of myself at some point. The real trick is to get over it and get on with life. As you quite rightly said, looking at the times when we are ridiculous and realizing that we are in fact moving forward is a great way to live.
.-= Carol King´s last blog ..Where Do Law of Attraction Blogs Go To Die? =-.
Oh Draqos this is just DELIGHTFUL!! I love it. It made me think of an event that happened this morning. I was going for my jog across the high desert and I have to climb over a low fence to get onto the trail. Everyone does it. But I was climbing over and I forgot that I had on my martial arts pants that I do Tai Chi etc in. They are very baggy. And there were a lot of cars going by, headed to the nearby college.
As I went over the fence my pants caught on the barbed wire and I fell to the ground on the other side of the fence, but my pant leg (hence leg) was still hooked up on the fence. I was perfectly unharmed, but my instinct was to try and cover the whole incident, which was impossible with one leg caught on the wire and me on the ground. Finally I just lay there laughing my guts out thinking, “Just laugh over it Robin. It’s a bit late to try and act like nothing happened. And who will care in a hundred years time anyway?” LOL!! So I just embraced my ridiculous situation, reached up and unhooked my pant leg and groveled in the dirt and got up. I knew about 10 cars had seen me. I just didn’t care because It felt sooooo good to embrace that much of my humanity.
ALSO, my friend, I am BLOWN away that you’ve had NO English lessons. You are a better writer than I am and I grew up with Emglish. I applaud you and just am hugging you for all your hard work and courage.
If we are not willing to allow ourselves to be ridiculous we will never fully live. It takes guts and a willingness to make a fool of ourselves to REALLY find out who we are and REALLY live a full life. And you have done a top notch job of it. Congratulations. Hugs, Robin
.-= Robin Easton´s last blog ..Share Your Legacy? =-.
Thank God I’ve been ridiculous this past few years. I find myself in deep meditation and constant learning. I have partially neglected my friends and I have this weird feeling that they are taking about my sudden awkwardness.
In those times I am evolving. I’m very happy about who I am today, very different from who I am before. 🙂
Good call there about your English. That’s pretty ridiculous when you get made fun of for that, and you have the good way to respond.
Being ridiculously rejected is something I have partaken in, and it sure is easier when you put it in the “ridiculous” category, as you can learn a lot much quicker. You get the most when you push the most.
Keep it rolling big guy.
.-= Armen Shirvanian´s last blog ..Sites To Mention 12-10-2009 Plus Podcast Plus Map =-.
Wow Dragos, I think your English is amazing, and without any language lessons. Personally, I’m impressed. Trust me, there are plenty of English born who’s writing makes you look like a pro. I remember the first time I went to Mexico without speaking any Spanish. When I finally became aware of what I had been saying, I had to laugh. I sure did give the locals plenty to smile about. Ridiculous, absolutely, but I sure had fun. Everything has a learning curve, that’s one of the best things about learning new things.
.-= Jonathan – Advanced Life Skills´s last blog ..Why Negative Life Lessons Are So Valuable =-.
I did same thing, without knowing that I’m ridiculous because I want to do something I never done before, most of it was about talking to the people in work meetings with people who spoke in English…
But I never realized that I’m improving myself and it’s ok to be awkward because u are doing something completely new.
Dragos, I think you are ridiculous. I could have sworn that english was your first language based on your writing!
.-= Steve @ MyWifeQuitHerJob´s last blog ..Is Your Business Just A Hobby In The Eyes Of The IRS? =-.
Some times we do ridiculous things and wonder why in the world we did it. Other times, we think why can’t we do more ridiculous things :-0)
But I guess in away, doing ridiculous things makes you feel young again!
.-= Persha -DumpedDays´s last blog ..38 Ways To Keep Busy After A Break Up =-.
Great post, Dragos. I just have 1 thing to say.
And a video for those who know what I’m talking about!
.-= Alex´s last blog ..Oh-No!-Whatâ€™s-Next?! Dialogues for the Offline =-.
Very interesting postâ€¦ and we all certainly have felt ridiculed in one situation or the other. And I have leant to interpret any of theses situations in a manner that will allow be grow.. I have also learnt to laugth at myself.. I remember one blessed day I tripped in the office, not very nice but I could not help but laugh. 🙂
.-= Fatima Da´s last blog ..Whilst The Christmas Bells Are Swingingâ€¦.. =-.
Mate, for not having an English lesson in your life, you write 100 times better than I.
.-= Jonny | thelifething.com´s last blog ..Your Chance To Read Possible The Worlds Longest Blog =-.
Hi Dragos. I think it is built into our genes to try to enforce and seek group approval. It had survival value in our long distant past. But those same tendencies now limit people. We don’t need to be kept in line to be safe anymore.
Most people who have created something significant and lasting have been made fun of or ridiculed. To grow is to be different and in same cases, yes to be ridiculous. Excellent article!
.-= Stephen – Rat Race Trap´s last blog ..The Investment Banker and The Mexican Fisherman =-.
Good one, Dragos.
You know, I hear that the no.1 fear in most people is public speaking. I hear that a lot among acquaintances too.
And why is that? Because they fear the audience is going to laugh at them. Because they fear being ridiculed in public.
That’s their greatest fear.
Do you realize what a challenge this would be? If we would embrace ridicule and see it as a step forward, as a necessity of progress?
I think we would grow much faster.
What a thought provoking post as usual, Dragos. I actually always thought that you either lived or travelled a lot somewhere in English speaking countries to learn English as good as you did. I love how clearly and vividly you express your thoughts in writting. I’ve lived in US for 5 years now and don’t think my English is as good as yours.
.-= Lana-DreamFollowers Blog´s last blog ..Life Purpose: Do you avoid challenges? =-.
I have to admit: I can sometimes be bad at being ridiculous. I used to love it as a child, always making silly faces and roleplaying. Now I am a little too stubborn in my personality. It is a flaw I recognize, and I hope to work on in the near future.
.-= Steven Handel´s last blog ..Business-Minded Spirituality =-.
You think kids aren’t stubborn and silly together?
.-= Ari Herzog´s last blog ..Case Study of 4 Companies on Twitter =-.
What gave you that impression?
.-= Steven Handel´s last blog ..Business-Minded Spirituality =-.
Well to be honest, reading through your website I never guessed that you weren’t a natural English speaker, and I’ve read many blogs where it was apparent that English wasn’t the primary language of the author, so congratulations on teaching yourself to at least WRITE very well in English… in fact, you write better than most English speakers I know! (and usually its the only language they know)
A good way to turn being laughed at, poked fun at, and “feeling ridiculous” into a good thing is to monitor your reactions to those situations. If you really do feel ridiculous, or if being “made fun of” causes you to have a reaction such as shame or anger, then it’s good indication that it’s an area of your life that needs to be worked on.
Often it’s the feelings of shame and guilt that really make your fears stand out.
.-= Jonathan Beebe´s last blog ..Why Not Choose To Be Happy? =-.
I’m usually ridiculous with the people I know and have bursts of being ridiculous, or myself with “new people”. I’m learning to do it more and more. The more I do it, the better it feels.
I’ve started to look at it like this: being ridiculous is really having the confidence to be yourself and express yourself spontaneously. When you can do this you attract people that match who you are, instead of attracting people that match who you are trying to be (serious and non-ridiculous). Of course, there are many interpretations, but that is one that I like :).
.-= Henri´s last blog ..How to Overcome Procrastination =-.
A difference that also makes us ridiculous is the difference between ourselves and the others. So we are ridiculous in their eyes. Hence the fear of showing ourselves, our beliefs, thoughts, or feelings. We share our inner only with the ones that we trust will not hurt our feelings. Children hide nothing.
This post really illuminates why it’s good to be “ridiculous” – or to stand out from the crowd. If we’re trying new things and failing, we’re learning. That’s progress. Those who are afraid of failure or looking “ridiculous” are the ones who are going to be falling behind.
.-= Brett – DareToExpress.com´s last blog ..Crowning the Inner Champion =-.
Very funny and serious, in the same time… Reading your post I just remember one time when I felt soooooooo ridiculous… I had to meet a very important man and instead of saying him “Buna ziua” (Hello) I said “O zi buna” (like, Goodbye)… :)) So… yes, it happens…
btw, speaking of gramma: it’s not “tertory”, but “teritory” 😀
Yes it is okay to be ridiculous!, Thanks this is a very timely article, and considering you have never had an official English lesson, you are doing very well, you can read my ridiculous attempt at speaking German here http://travelmonkee.co.nz/?p=97 and the most important thing is to keep trying, I think you are really ridiculous when you give up!