Hi, my name is Maren and whenever I go to Panera Bread, I almost always order a PB&J sandwich from the kids' menu. Last night, I went to dinner with an old friend and she laughed when I ordered my usual. She thought I couldn't be serious -- ordering from the kids' menu when I'm 20-years-old. She later told me, "Maren, you're so silly, but that means you'll always be happy."
And that struck a chord with me.
Maybe it is because I hold onto my inner youth so tightly and refuse to let it go, but I think being silly also has something to do with being vulnerable. Being able to laugh at yourself is equal to unapologetically being yourself. We live in a world where we simultaneously desire to be our own person and fear the judgement of others based on being an individual. But in reality, people do not really care that you wore the same outfit two days in a row, that you fell up the stairs or whatever else you did that you thought was so embarrassing.
Until my junior year of high school, I was always so concerned about what other people thought of me or what I did. When I stopped seeking validation from people who were not my friends and who truly did not care what I did, then I started being unapologetically myself. I joined the cheer team, made new friends and floated between the theater kids and the athletic kids. That year, I started to embrace my weird, quiet and somewhat athletic demeanor -- I was unapologetically myself.
I do not really know what happened junior year of high school except that I allowed myself to be vulnerable.
Being soft, gentle and warm is a different kind of radical. The ability to allow yourself to be vulnerable is very powerful.
Today, scream-singing the opening song of "Star Wars" in my dorm or laughing at myself after doing something embarrassing seems like second nature.
Freshmen year, my very first friends and I used to do this toe touch thing where you reach your hand down to your foot and say "toe touch." It is so weird and I have no idea where it came from, but it is something that bonded us together. One time, I managed to fall over trying to do this toe touch. My friends broke out in laughter and once I brushed myself off, I couldn't help but laugh with them.
Feel free to be unapologetically yourself and remember that you can be silly! Whether you are ordering a PB&J sandwich from the kid's menu at Panera Bread, scream-singing "Star Wars" or making numerous "Spongebob" references, you will be silly and you will be happy.