The Dubious Value of Seriousness

I can get very serious very fast. This is no body’s fault but my own – although growing up when I did (which, to be fair to me, isn’t entirely my fault) gets to be called a contributing factor.

For a long time, I only had to bother with being myself, but as I neared Real Live Adulthood, it was clear I was subject to being stuffed in categories. Fun put me in the ‘ditzy’ column. The creative and playful was ‘naive.’ The wit? That was just annoying. Not many liked a witty woman back then. If I had something to say,  it was swiftly brushed away with the you’re opinionated broom.

Everyone seemed to agree that if you expected to be taken seriously,  you were required to be serious.

Eventually, I accepted that’s how it worked. So I followed procedures. When I felt myself being dismissed, I unleashed the humorless part of my brain. When someone was flaunting made up knowledge or – more often – their intellectual superiority (please. Meet a law student. At a party.), seriousness marched right out of me. The serious, mixed with some simmering anger – oh, THAT was a cocktail.

I wish I’d known enough to know how made up it all was and how much damage it could do. Nothing is more paralyzing to me than taking myself seriously.

I won’t ever stop being serious. It’s obligatory in grownups. And I don’t think we’d know if someone cared and considered something important if we didn’t talk in the most serious tones of voice. Besides, it would be too much work to get it all out of me.

Still. I’m much better now, thank you for asking. I’ve recovered a lot of my twinkly stuff and re-arranged my interior so I can reach it easily. It still doesn’t quite trust me, so I have to talk to it gently and give it treats and generally indulge it, but it’s there. And every single time that I choose to use it instead of seriousness, the work gets better, the ideas come more easily, the answers appear.

The painting is an illustration of that moment when we pause to find our sense of humor. 






15 thoughts on “The Dubious Value of Seriousness

  1. Had I known you then I think we’d have gotten along fantastically as wit is one of my favorite things. Not just humor, not just smarts, but seamlessly weaving them together like that. (I think I tend to be more humorous than witty, but when the wit hits the fan, watch out.) I’m glad you found the balance, though it almost seems kind of tragic that a person should have to.

    • Wit sounds parTICularly delicious in your hands. And I’m more witty than humorous so we’d have had a recipe for cohort …dom.

      Just – and only – for the record, I didn’t bother with achieving balance. Serious is serious shit and if I knew anything about winding, viney plants that take over, I’d make a little analogy, but I got almost all of it out of me. I really don’t have a purpose for it except to impress someone with how very serious I can be. Now all that’s left is habit and skill. For the tool drawer.

      Wait. Big lie. There’s also some of that stuff that can be instantly brought to life with a push of a button.

    • I sound wonderful in your hands, Rosie! :):) I didn’t know that about colors. And then, to the important point … And tell me. Does all that serious translate into anything that we somehow think it should? (I hope you understand that question. Ha. I think it’s just on the edge of not making sense.)

      • Most of my serious translates into regret….of all sorts of things…..a life I can’t get back and have do-overs, and in the end, no, none of it is what I think it should be. Blue is a very serious color when it is dark. Green is serious usually when it is avocado. Having said that, my bedroom has a wall of green…..minty and fresh, not serious. I’d like to do a teal wall. My kitchen is yellow….brings the sun in with winter blahs.

  2. My personal recollections are kinda-sorta in the same general area, except nobody ever really admitted to liking me in the first place (except some of the family, of course), so there wasn’t really anyone I felt inclined to filter myself for. Sarcasm has always been my friend, and I figured they wouldn’t like me any better if I played dumb, so why bother? ;)

    For what it’s worth, I think you’re awesome.

    • That’s interesting – seriousness as a filter. I don’t think it was. I think it was/is a whole other side of personality. But a filter! THAT would come in handy. Maybe if I rethought the whole thing, re-named it, I could end up with a way more useful tool. (Except for the part where I don’t want to spend any more time in the land of serious than I have to … a conundrum.) :)

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