Why you need to stop taking yourself so seriously

Illustration of people sitting on campus
Emily Bi/File

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It’s 6:35 p.m. and I’m walking back from my last class on a Tuesday evening. I’m frustrated that I forgot my sweater at home as the weather had managed to drop 10 degrees in the span of my 1.5 hour class. My frustration only gets worse as I lament the hormonal nature of Bay Area weather. Its consistency reminds me of the Wi-Fi connection in my room — nonexistent. I’m fuming. Now I’m aggressively walking across the Glade seeing all of these happy groups of friends playing spikeball. Great, how nice it must be to play outside with friends. I think to myself, “why am I even taking this computer science class; it takes up all of my time. I could be here, playing spikeball with my friends that I haven’t even made yet. I am not meant to code.” I’m disgusted. Mind you, all of this is going on as “Just a Girl” by No Doubt is blasting in my headphones. If it wasn’t already obvious, the day had taken a toll on me. 

I’ve fully given into the anger, the angst, the stress, the fear — in fact, I love it. I revel in being an angry college student mad at the world. Then, by the grace of Spotify gods, “Mood Swings” by Pop Smoke starts blasting in my headphones. I freeze in my tracks. Stunned by the evil, cruel nature that is the shuffle button on Spotify, I begin to laugh. Within 10 seconds, I had gone from burrowed brows to laughing hysterically alone on the Strawberry Creek bridge at 6:40 p.m. on a random Tuesday evening.

I began to laugh because I had realized how ridiculous I was being and how absurd everything was. Within that five minute walk, I had managed to get annoyed about the natural and inevitable passage of time, the inexorable cooling of temperature as the day goes on, my wifi connection, seeing people happy and somehow had an existential crisis about my purpose and chosen major. 

I was so in my head, taking myself so seriously that I had created a world in which my worries and stressors were the only ones that mattered. Had it not been for the absurdity of Pop Smoke playing in the middle of this hole I was digging for myself, I probably would’ve been consumed by my own negative thoughts. It would’ve made it impossible for me to find the motivation, ability and will to keep going and finish the work that I had to do. 

So often, we think that by worrying, being angry or thinking about all of the things we have to do, we are somehow being productive. That couldn’t be further from the truth. When we take ourselves so seriously that we become tunnel visioned, we forget that we are ultimately less than a speck in this universe. Your worries today will one day no longer matter. Learn to laugh at yourself. Laugh at how unreasonable you can be sometimes, at how random and chaotic life can be. I’ve learned that putting on an absurd song like “Mood Swings” can take me out of the moment, which allows me to take a look at the big picture and not take myself so seriously. 

I promise that learning to laugh at yourself will make everything you’re dealing with a little less scary. Doing this has definitely helped transform my mood from being overwhelmed to levelheaded. As Pop Smoke would say, “Shorty really do be catching mood swings.” And that’s okay.


Contact Paloma Torres at [email protected].