There is a saying doing the rounds again and again on Facebook, with slight variations. Basically it says “Some people need a high five. In the face. With a chair.” And it is supposed to be very amusing. I detest that saying and always immediately hide it from my feed. My absolute aversion to any form of violence, coupled with my instant literal interpretation of language, always leaves me with the involuntary impression of blood, injury, violence against a person. And I cringe and have to steer my thoughts away to prevent feeling upset. The few times I have ventured to let my dislike be known, I have invariably been told that I take life too seriously, or need to develop a sense of humour.
And those two things I have heard countless times before. The accusation that I take things too seriously has silenced me so many times, stopped me from giving my opinion, excluded me from conversations. I have so often doubted myself – maybe I really do need to lighten up? But no, I don't! (And I have to say that the words “Relax!” “Chill!” “Lighten up!” invariably make my hackles rise. I find it patronising and rude.)
Yes, I do take many things in life very seriously. And feel passionate about most of those things. I also have an excellent sense of humour. Ask people close to me and they will tell you that I laugh a lot, that I LOVE laughing and have the talent of seeing the funny side of most situations. I am as passionate about laughter and humour as about the serious stuff.
My passion and seriousness are not wrong, just often different. I laugh about different things than most people, and I laugh longer than some people expect. I can laugh a thousand times about one little thing, and I believe that is a gift. And my passion is a gift. My literal interpretation can be a gift too. And I have the right to think like I do, react like I do, and to give my opinion without being told that I am wrong because my reaction is not mainstream.
I believe people should learn to welcome it when others disagree with them, or express a different opinion. And we should all also learn to become less defensive. I include myself here. I know I am very touchy, and have to work hard to not become so defensive so quickly. But I have the right to feel angry when others dismiss my opinions just because they are different. I know that I deserve respect, just like everybody else. Different, not wrong or less than.