Looking foolish can oftentimes feel incredible humiliating. It’s a shot to the ego, serves “proof” of our internal sense of inadequacy derived from insecurities. We feel that by appearing foolish we are a failure. And by admitting to that failure, we are betraying ourselves in the process. If we appear foolish to others, than we are expressing our own inferiority, ignorance, lack of intelligence, or fallings.
However, I would like to challenge this concept of foolishness and offer an alternative. What if appearing foolish, can serve us? Now of course, we don’t want to stay foolish for the same reason twice, but perhaps looking foolish once a day could be the equivalent of making a mistake a day, and then, learning from that mistake. Translating to, daily growth. So how can we reap the benefits of appearing foolish?
1) SERVES A GREATER PURPOSE
Any actor who has experienced clown exercises could tell you a bit about how releasing the fear of looking foolish can best serve the work. Clowns are characters that explore innocence after experience. And thus, they need to act foolish onstage to best serve the art form. If a clown acted mature, refined, and all-knowing, not only would that clown not serve as an entertaining character, but rather, they would appear silly and unskilled. They would look foolish for the WRONG reasons, they would appear to be completely out of touch with the craft and they would serve as an embracement to those who dedicate years of their life to the exercise.
Embracing foolishness in this circumstance, and embracing the potential of being laughed at, ridiculed, criticized, but all for the greater purpose of succeeding as your role of a clown, would only serve you and not hinder you like trying to abstain from appearing foolish might.
2) EMBRACE OWNING UP TO MISTAKES
Oftentimes, we do not want to feel ashamed of ourselves or subject ourselves to being laughed at or corrected by others. Some use harsh methods of correction and oftentimes being reprimanded is something we fear. A person who is a prisoner to their fear of appearing foolish, might resist the urge to appear foolish at all costs. We don’t want to give others the power to be condescending over us. But the fear of owning up to our mistakes IS in reality, what makes us appear hopelessly ignorant.
In most cases, (if the issue was not to severe) making a mistake once, can be forgiven. As long as their was no ill-intent behind the action, but those who are most looked down upon in society ARE those who refuse to own up to their mistakes and make themselves look foolish not once, but twice, thrice, etc.
If a person is arrogant and refuses to learn from their own mistakes, they will instantly lose the respect of those around them. Whereas, a person who owns up to their mistakes has a better opportunity of regaining respect from the person they have slighted.
Public apologies are also great opportunities for other to learn from you and your mistake. If you make it known that you were wrong, others will take this into consideration and those who made the same misconception as you, but were silent about it, will learn from your mistake and grow also.
3) INSTILLS A SENSE OF HUMILITY
A society that values arrogance can be extremely detrimental. In a world that we regard a false sense of self-confidence or security is likely to resist growth.
If we collectively live in a society that praises humility and embracing faults, we can collectively have faith for a better tomorrow.
4) PEOPLE WILL BE NICER ABOUT IT WHEN YOU FAIL
Have you ever noticed that at times, people can be rude/ condescending when they are correcting your behavior? It might be because they assume you’ll take the defense. As a feminist, I’ve encountered SEVERAL people who refuse to embrace their mistakes. If someone makes a crude joke about women, and I correct them, they assume I am trying to attack them, and so they jump to the defensive and begin to initiate gaslighting tactics, label you as two sensitive, reassure you of their commitment to women’s rights, damn your belief system, and assume superiority over you. But if they had just listened to the criticism instead of taking such defense, they might have actually learned something valuable, and they might have reason to thank me. Perhaps, if it weren’t for me correcting their statement, they might have made that joke in a professional setting and could have suffered consequences like being fired, or charged with harassment.
This said, some people take criticism hard and they are too arrogant to ever fathom the idea that they could be in the wrong. That is why it is to your benefit to take criticism constructively. If you have a reputation for being reasonable, flexible, and agreeable, people will be kinder towards you when they need to correct you in one way or another. And their good intentions can serve you in the future. So by embracing the idea that it is impossible to live your life without ever looking foolish and accept that concept into your everyday life, you will garner the respect of others, and they will respond to you in a pleasant manner rather than a cruel or aggressive way.
5 MAYBE YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT AFTER ALL
It is entirely possible also that you are in the right after all! But the fear of appearing foolish is preventing you from speaking up. When you speak up, you make a difference. The way we speak to or about others has a large impact on the world around us. Each statement made has the potential to start a chain effect and get a conversation going. Your voice is your weapon. Use it wisely, and don’t fear making life changing statements. Who knows who your opinion might serve in the grand scheme? You might never see the benefits of what your statement can do, but trust me when I say, your words are powerful.
So embrace looking foolish, just strive not to look foolish for the same thing twice. And when you decide to embrace error, you will finally be free to grow and improve into the best version of yourself that is possible.