October 12, 2010

To Whom It May Concern

October 12, 2010
Fear of Being Laughed At
Department of Looking Stupid
Worrying Too Much What Other People Think, Inc.
To whom it may concern:
I am writing to you today regarding a lifetime's subjugation to the fear of looking stupid, sub-catagory: fear of being laughed at. After fifty years, this fear continues to operate as efficiently as if its constituent parts and features--embarrassment, humiliation, exposure, blushes, and, yes, tears--were brand-new. In fact, it sometimes seems that this fear of being laughed at/looking stupid works better now than when first installed.
This is unacceptable.
It is this very reliability that makes the fear of being laughed at/looking stupid a health hazard. Frankly, I'm surprised that you have not already been sued for damages inflicted to self-esteem, ego, and potential. Do you have any idea of the things I have avoided doing because of you? Singing where anyone could hear me. Dancing. Writing. Saying "I love you" when it might have made a difference. Saying "I love you" when it wouldn't have changed a thing.

While we're at it, let's talk about my fear of losing control--kissing cousin to the fear of being laughed at/looking stupid--which requires--requires!--me to be in control at all times. I must avoid any and all situations in which the unexpected might occur. Surprise is anathema.
Thanks to you, someone is always watching. am always watching, always vigilant, always less than I could be, my light perpetually basketed, lest someone find it/me laughable/stupid.
I really must insist that you accept the return of this paralyzing gelotophobia--which, by the way,  I never wanted in the first place. As it was a gift, handed down through countless generations of my family--along both matrilineal and patrilineal lines--I do not have the receipt. Regardless, I feel certain that you will find a way to make restitution.
I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter.
Cross-posted in the Sunset Coast Writers blog.


  1. What a creative way to approach this subject. We are all afraid at times and seek the approval of others. It is part of what makes us human. Putting ourselves out there takes courage.

  2. I feel like we are kindred spirits, Barbara! In desperation to let all that stuff go before I turn 60, I begin and end each day with this mantra: "I am fine just as I am. I have nothing to prove to anyone". I also say it about a dozen times during the day..been doing it for two years now and I finally don't fight who I am anymore. I guess I am replacing the past voices with these new thoughts. I also found a site (www.coffeeonthepatio.com) where women our age laugh at themselves and don't take life so seriously! It helps. I love your writing!