I have never been a normal kid. Ever since I was young I always noticed that I was just a little different from the kids I went to school and played sports with. Like a lot of kids who felt like outsiders, I spent much of my childhood as a very shy and self conscious kid. In pre school it got so bad that I could barely even talk to some people. After a bit of therapy I got past that, but I was still no social butterfly. I was still different. And children aren’t exactly the most understanding people when it comes to accepting differences. I got made fun of for a number of things. How skinny I was and my awkward personality were the primary targets. For years this went on and I always took it very personally. Each insult struck me hard. Then 8th grade rolled around. After years of feeling like an outcast and shying away from every insult that came my way, I started to take a look around me. I realized that kids that age pretty much make fun of everyone, and that I shouldn’t take every insult to heart.
It was just dumb luck that this personal revelation came just after I started getting into comedy, especially in the form of late night talk shows, my favorite being Conan O’Brien. I was inspired with how this lanky goofball managed to get up in front of millions of people and shamelessly mock himself in every way imaginable. That made me realize that the secret to overcoming my insecurities wasn’t to push them down and hope nobody notices them. The secret is to own them, accept and embrace them. I stopped letting my insecurities bother me and instead began to poke fun at them myself. Some people misconstrue this as a coping mechanism for self loathing, but I feel it’s just the opposite. Robin Williams, another favorite of mine, once said, “The world is open for play, everything and everybody is mockable, in a wonderful way.” What he is saying here, what has become my philosophy, is that life is better lived when filled with laughter. We all face pressures and insecurities, but they can all be made less daunting or crippling with humor.
I still have many of the same imperfections I had years ago, but instead of letting them become insecurities, I make them my very own punchlines, and I am happier because of it.