Thursday, March 17, 2011

Laughing my way through life

When I was in college, my advisor sat me down for a chat. Most of it was about coursework and career planning, stuff that slid in one ear and out the other like a well-lubed green bean.

But one thing he said stuck with me.

“You have this nervous laugh you do all the time,” he said. “You really need to break that habit.”

I can’t remember my exact response, but I’m certain I laughed.

Then I went home and thought about it. A lot. And over the next few years, I became self conscious about laughing. Was I doing it too much? Was I really nervous?

Looking back with the hindsight of someone who’s lived 36 years and learned a bit about herself in that time, I can tell you the answer is no. I’m not nervous. Not usually, anyway.

I just like to laugh. I like it a lot.

Probably a good thing, considering I write romantic comedy. It might not work as well if I wrote about cancer or the holocaust.

I wish I could go back and grab my 19-year-old self by the ear and whisper, “don’t listen to him. Just be yourself. Keep laughing, it’s what will carry you through life.”

But I figured it out along the way. That was apparent a few days ago when I was boogie boarding in Kauai, and unbeknownst to me, my father shot video of it.
When we played it back later, we both started laughing about…well, my laughing. Maniacal, if you want to get technical, but obviously an indication I was having a pretty good time.

“Anyone who watches that won’t realize I was standing about 70 feet away,” my dad said. “That’s how loudly you were laughing.”

I’m OK with that. Whether nervous or maniacal, I’m proud to be laughing my way through life.

Have you ever gotten advice you later realized wasn’t quite right? Something that steered you wrong early in life, perhaps? Please share!

And please feel free to laugh with me. Or at me, whatever rolls your socks up.

22 comments :

Sarah W said...

stuff that slid in one ear and out the other like a well-lubed green bean.

Holy Cow, lady, but your descriptions leave me in delighted awe.

The worst advice I ever received: I was fourteen and had been invited to go to China with the High School Band (bassoonists are always at a premium).

One of my music teachers, who in retrospect was a bit of a fundamentalist xenophobe, convinced me that the trip would be far too dangerous. So I somehow refused to go, despite my mother's rants, and I've been wanting to kick my past idiot self ever since.

lynnrush said...

Laugh away, girl. I say you gotta laugh your way through life for sure. There's too much out there to make us frown, you know?

Love it! Great post.

Matthew MacNish said...

That advisor sounds like a douche-nozzle. What a terrible thing to tell a person.

I say just be yourself. Sure, not everyone is going to like me, but if you don't like me for who I am you probably suck anyway, so eff off.

Er, wait - that came out wrong.

lora96 said...

Go Tawna!

Personally I think that if you ARE nervous there are way worse responses than a cute laugh. For example shouting "Holy shit!" every time you get anxious would be less socially acceptable. Also, taking off your shoes (if you're nervous your feet might sweat) and fanning down your blouse with a newspaper like a menopausal southern belle down on her luck.

One of my former students used to hum Camptown Races when he was nervous. Now that was annoying.

Linda G. said...

I'm glad you still laugh. And I'm glad you infect others with your laughter. Seems like a worthy mission in life to me. :)

If anyone has ever given me supremely bad advice, apparently I've repressed it.

Patty Blount said...

Worst piece of advice I received? "Don't be a writer; you'll never make any money at it."

I set my focus on nursing school, which I hated. I bummed around for a while and got a few computer degrees because that's what everyone did who didn't know what they wanted to do with their lives.

But I never could quit writing. Funny how things work out?

Danica Avet said...

I used to have a nervous laugh. When I'd learn something new, I'd giggle a bit. It annoyed me. *sigh*

I don't remember any advice I was given because I never took any. I have an oppositional-defiant personality, so I hate being told what to do, even if it's for my own good, (nervous laugh) ;)

Suz said...

On twitter you said your laughter in this vid was cackling. It wasn't cackling at all! You have a great, fun laugh that's no where near as loud as my own. I can't believe someone told you to change your laugh, that's the mist ridiculous thing I've ever heard. Keep laughing, Tawna! :O)

scarlettspace said...

stuff that slid in one ear and out the other like a well-lubed green bean.

Now you got me laughing like always.

I don't think there is one person or one piece of advice but more the type of advice anything condescending or bitter like "Are you sure that something you can do" or "Oh that's not something someone like you should try" Advice like that sucks.

"I’m OK with that. Whether nervous or maniacal, I’m proud to be laughing my way through life." As you should be. Laugh away.

scarlettspace said...

stuff that slid in one ear and out the other like a well-lubed green bean.

Now you got me laughing like always.

I don't think there is one person or one piece of advice but more the type of advice anything condescending or bitter like "Are you sure that something you can do" or "Oh that's not something someone like you should try" Advice like that sucks.

"I’m OK with that. Whether nervous or maniacal, I’m proud to be laughing my way through life." As you should be. Laugh away.

scarlettspace said...

stuff that slid in one ear and out the other like a well-lubed green bean.

Now you got me laughing like always.

I don't think there is one person or one piece of advice but more the type of advice anything condescending or bitter like "Are you sure that something you can do" or "Oh that's not something someone like you should try" Advice like that sucks.

"I’m OK with that. Whether nervous or maniacal, I’m proud to be laughing my way through life." As you should be. Laugh away.

scarlettspace said...

stuff that slid in one ear and out the other like a well-lubed green bean.

Now you got me laughing like always.

I don't think there is one person or one piece of advice but more the type of advice anything condescending or bitter like "Are you sure that something you can do" or "Oh that's not something someone like you should try" Advice like that sucks.

"I’m OK with that. Whether nervous or maniacal, I’m proud to be laughing my way through life." As you should be. Laugh away.

Nicole Zoltack said...

Laughing is healthy. You can't ever laugh too much.

inkgrrl said...

Heh. You said lubed. Heh.

Laugh loud and long and always, it's a wonderful thing!

Patrick Alan said...

Two years after I graduated high school, at my best friend's father's funeral, my high school chemistry teacher and track coach asked me what I was up to.

I told him I had dropped out of college.

He looked at me and said, "I'm not surprised," then walked away.

May not have been advice, but something that stuck with me.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

I read somewhere that laughing is like jogging on the inside, so that makes it kinda like "exercise", right? So, laugh away! It's good for you and makes the people around you feel better, too. (It's highly contagious!)

Neurotic Workaholic said...

Someone once told me that I would never last long as a teacher because I just wasn't cut out for it. But I've been teaching for years now and I still haven't given up. And it's the one job I've ever had that I want to keep doing.

SM Schmidt said...

A professor said they didn't have any confidence in my abilities for a project. My confidence in myself was shot. About near cried when all my assignments the next semester came back with A's and B's.

The sad part is I don't think that professor was trying to be cruel but damn it felt like it.

Christi Craig said...

What a great laugh!

The worst advice I ever got? A month before I was about to move 1000 miles away to live with my boyfriend, a dear friend told me that - because my family of origin was falling apart - I should stay home, stay close. I cried when she said it, because in my gut I knew she was wrong. I moved anyway, and I've been married to that man now for almost sixteen years.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

I'm in college now, and it's hard not to listen to advice like that. Everyone who's older automatically seems like they have it together. Like they know what they're talking about. My prof recently talked about the optimists in our class and how in ten years we'll all by more cynical and able to appreciate Schopenhaur's depressing philosophy. (S. basically says the best way to escape the power of the world is to starve yourself to death.) My prof is a brilliant man and an excellent teacher, but he isn't happy. If I have to stay foolishly optimistic to end up differently, than I will.
I'm glad you kept laughing - I think I will too. :)

Rhonda said...

Another great post! You always make me laugh. The worst advice I ever received? EMT: "You don't seem like you're in enough pain for your ankle to really be broken. Why don't you try to stand." Ummm....should anyone ever tell you anything similar, my advice to you would be: STAY ON THE GROUND and make them take you to the ER for x-rays. :-)

Carrie said...

I'm very much a "if I don't laugh, I'll cry" kind of girl. I strongly believe in a well-developed sense of the ridiculous. I also believe that if you find the humor in life then you'll keep your perspective.

That said, I can't tell you how many times that I've laughed out loud at situational irony and had the speaker say "I'm not joking. I'm serious."

Thank you, Captains Obvious. If you weren't serious, it wouldn't BE ironic and, therefore, funny.

Sigh.