Life

Why so serious

April 2, 2017
Why so serious

I love laughing. Who doesn’t?

Authentic laughter is the synonym of childhood to me. It brings me back to times of innocence and pure joy. Bursts of laughter are hard to mimic, they have to come from the heart. When I laugh I feel like a kid again, and I look like one too. I also look very much alike my dad, who looked like a very funny kid.

I wasn’t such a funny kid myself. Already at a young age I took things pretty seriously. I was putting on my raisin face as I was focusing on homework or reading a book. In the classroom, I found hustling and bustling inappropriate. The bad jokes, the playful tricks didn’t make me laugh. I was the student most tired teachers are looking for. I was a great one, the kind that doesn’t cause any trouble. They let me do my thing, which was mostly reading once I was done with all the exercices they had given us, as they were trying to bring back a calm and suitable study environment in our hectic days.

In secondary two, one great teacher seemed to think it wasn’t necessarily a good thing to be always so focused. Very fondly, he asked me those simple words: « Why so serious? » It rang a bell, and not a school one. I wasn’t necessarily proud of how I acted. I actually found myself quite boring, and wished I would be able to enjoy the little things others seem to find very amusing. I was already somewhere else, waiting day after day for school to end so that I could finally enjoy myself too, although deep down one of my strongest desires was to be part of this group who seemed to have so much fun. But it wasn’t working. The more I was looking to fit in, the more I found myself way out in left field.


When time doesn’t fix things

Sometimes growing up helps. You get to know yourself better, and you evolve. That works really well when you are an immature kid, and as you move on through life, you learn to organize yourself, you become more responsible. My “problem”, if we can call it that way, was that I was already responsible and organized. Growing up only confirmed to me that I was right: after all, I was doing everything people were told to do. As my ten year-old sister was buying candies and getting reprimanded for eating too much sugar before dinner, I was the model child, carefully saving my money (and my Halloween candies so that they would last until the next one). At sixteen, I was already thinking about investing in my REER, and working two jobs just because I thought that was what you had to do once you had the legit age to enter the work field. At twenty-two, I was hired at the government, and found myself sitting in a beige cubicle, planning strategic communications. At twenty-three, I was buying my condo with a down payment equivalent to what some people take five, ten years to save. That same year, I got back to school part-time to start my Master’s program, just because I needed some kind of leisure.

 

Moving away from fear

Those moves were all very reasonable, rational, great decisions. I don’t regret any of them. They are what makes me able to feel free today of any concerns about buying groceries, paying my mortgage and purchasing lululemon leggings. I am now in a comfortable, enviable position. Which I want to leave.

How come? Because I need change. You know how unemployed or bored-by-their-job people post in their LinkedIn profile « Looking for new challenges », even though they are probably just looking for their next job to pay the rent and don’t really want to work that hard? Well those people aren’t me. This sentence is what I feel like on a daily basis. I am (almost) always on the « Bring it on » mode. Thinking that I know what will happen for the next year, five years, is sometimes comforting, but also profoundly anxiety-provoking for me. Sometimes, you are just better off not knowing.

Reading up to that point, you probably get the picture: I am a woman of paradoxes. I want comfort, I want money, and I always make reasonable choices, but I also want the fun, the challenges, the excitement that come with uncertainty and adventure. I work for the police, but I want to wear a full sleeve tattoo, black nails and Birkenstocks to go to work. I want to have the cake and eat it too, with lots of ice cream on top please.

Which is fine, because once your foundations are set, you should be able to move away from fear and start living, right?

 

The art of not giving a f*ck

But I just can’t. I am so damn scared, which is why I choose to try a different approach: to not give a f*ck.

“I know for myself, quitting my day job in finance after only six weeks and telling my boss that I was going to start selling dating advice online ranks pretty high up there in my own “didn’t give a fuck” hall of fame. Same with deciding to sell most of my possessions and move to South America. Fucks given? None. Just went and did it.” – Mark Manson, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

You can also refer to it as the Buddhist practice of detachment, or non-attachment. Mark Manson makes it clear though in a more modern vocabulary than the one found in the old teachings that it is not about not caring: it’s about being okay with whatever you choose, whoever you are. It’s about not being afraid of adversity. It’s about being able to pick your battles, to let go of things that don’t matter and choose to focus on what you want to spend your energy on.

I can be tattooed, in lulu leggings, sitting on a ball at work, and still do an amazing job as a communications advisor, if I don’t care too much about what others think, if I don’t let benign situations develop into malignant tumors. I can stop being such a drama queen, making a big fuss about things (a.ka. management decisions, organizational transformation, rumours at work) that have no impact on what truly matters in my life: love and friendship, yoga and books, cats and coffee.

Life is a bitch. We do stuff, and then we die. There is nothing serious about it. It’s a joke, but a not-so-funny one. However, if we let go of our ego and stop pretending that we are doing something important when writing an email or planning a useless meeting, maybe there is hope. Maybe we can find some beauty within that nonsense we all have to deal with. Maybe we can stop giving a fuck, stop fucking around, and make love instead.

 

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