There’s no shortage of serious people out there–people who are so uptight and concerned about their image that they’ll rarely let their hair down and have a laugh.
The truth is that life is too short to be perpetually unhappy.
The world is serious enough as it is: non-stop wars, crushing debt, diseases, global pandemics, crippling poverty.
Being able to stay optimistic through it all with a smile on your face is as great an asset as any in this life.
In this article, I’ll go through some of the phrases, one might use when they take themselves just a tad too seriously.
Let’s get to it!
1) “Actually, it’s pronounced…”
Serious people aren’t necessarily bad people; let’s clear the air on that one.
What they do tend to do, however, is constantly feel the need to prove themselves and overcompensate.
They might actively search for things to critique to make them feel better about themselves.
They want to feel like they’re above the rest of us–like we’re mere gauche cretins, as they sit on their throne of sophistication and superiority.
This sentiment will often manifest in the need to correct others on minor details, like pronunciation.
I’ve been guilty of this in the past; and I’ll tell you, it never really ended well for me.
I specifically remember correcting a date over their pronunciation of a menu item once and, to put it mildly, this did not sit well with her.
I can’t exactly blame her, correcting someone’s pronunciation or grammar on a first date is not exactly the stuff of epic love stories.
From then on, I’ve made it a point to stop correcting people, to ultimately live and let live (or let pronounce.)
2) “I don’t own a TV.”
By blurting out this one, you’re generally expressing that most people are inferior to you.
In your mind, television is a mindless, low-brow, ignorant way of passing the time.
It’s for the masses, not for such an esteemed figure like you.
Instead, you might talk about how you prefer reading, going outdoors, or doing something more “mentally” stimulating.
Not TV though. That doesn’t fall into this category.
The thing is, trashing a hobby or interest because it’s perceived as “mainstream” isn’t cool, no matter which way you slice it.
It might be tempting to do, to roll your eyes at people who enjoy spending time staring at a flatscreen bolted to the wall–but don’t.
Trying to come across as better than everyone else will only backfire.
And you will end up looking, well, a bit too pretentious.
Besides, we’re living through the golden age of television, where the medium of the TV series is at a record-high level in terms of collective quality and artistry.
3) “I don’t follow popular culture.”
People who think their interests are a gauge of their inherent value as people are way off the mark.
“Mainstream” is fun; it’s light; it’s accessible to many.
If it makes others happy, then leave them be.
Thinking you’re above the trends of pop culture, disdainfully looking down on them, will not be doing you, or people’s perception of you, any favors.
Listen here: having more niche interests than most doesn’t make you better than anyone else.
True wisdom is realizing that you don’t know it all; it’s admitting to yourself that, in the greater scheme of things, as Socrates put it, “I know that I know nothing.”
4) “I prefer the original version.”
Maybe everyone around you has been raving about a movie.
Maybe they’re animatedly sharing their theories and recreating their favorite scenes.
Maybe they’re saying they can’t wait for a sequel.
Meanwhile, you chime in, eyes rolling and all, saying “It was just okay. Pales in comparison to the book.”
Rather than building camaraderie with your peers, you cannot help but find a way to one-up them, to make a jab at their lack of refinement.
Well, let me tell you, there are fewer more effective ways to alienate those around you than blatantly acting like you’re better.
If people enjoy it, allow them that; anything less screams insecurity.
5) “I don’t eat processed foods.”
Food is such a contentious subject.
And like many of the other items on here, it’s a way for serious people to convey how much better they think they are than everyone else.
Sure, eating healthy and organic is the way to go, but when a person takes themselves too seriously, they might judge a person simply by what they choose to ingest.
As long as it’s not every day, there is an indulgent, even universal, joy to having the occasional fast food meal, bag of Doritos, or tub of Ben and Jerry’s.
This doesn’t mean that the consumer of these products is an innately inferior person in neither a moral or health sense–but the overly serious person will have you thinking otherwise.
6) “I only listen to underground music.”
I remember having a chat with a hipster at an obscure music venue in an incredibly gentrified neighborhood in Brooklyn.
When the conversation invariably turned to our respective musical tastes, he would audibly scoff when I would mention any artist or band remotely considered “popular.”
Meanwhile, he only spoke about artists I had never heard of: an experimental jazz trio from Nairobi, a Korean ska band, an instrumental tribal band from the Northeast border of Thailand.
Had I said Taylor Swift or Drake, he probably would have stared at me in disgust and then bolted towards the exit.
Our friendship didn’t exactly take off.
7) “I don’t use social media.”
I have a “woke” aunt who is regularly contrarian–and like the above Brooklyn hipster, will look down upon anything considered mainstream.
And is there anything more mainstream than having a social media account?
I doubt it.
Like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson before her, she will vigorously raise an eyebrow when she hears someone talk about social media, and blurt out: “Why would you waste your time with that junk? Life is so much more meaningful and authentic without it.”
Sure, in the abstract, she might have a point.
Social media can be toxic, it can be mentally and emotionally draining–but at the same time, it gives a lot of people an outlet, an escape from the rigors of day-to-day life.
Not all of us have the privilege and luxury of having the time to search for deeper meaning.
Most of us work all week, many of us are dealing with emotional baggage, and many of us need that meaningless escape.
In the eternal words of F. Scott Fitzgerald: “Whenever you feel like criticizing anyone…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
If this article has resonated with you, and you realize you’re a bit too serious in life, don’t worry.
Sometimes, we get too deep into things to see them with clarity.
Sometimes, it takes an objective party (me) to get you to lighten up.
Once you let go of that limiting attitude, and the prejudices that come with it, a whole new world will reopen to you–one that will certainly do you plenty of good, mind, body, and soul.
So take start smiling, start laughing, start seeing the absurdity of the world, and start having the periodic Popeye’s binge.
Remember, through balance, you’ll find meaning. You got this.
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