On being stupid and why it’s so important.

2 12 2011

What is the stupidest thing you did this year? What about in your whole life? You can take stupid to mean: embarrassing, dangerous, funny, lame, whatever you consider “stupid.” Courtesy Kassie

I’ve made every attempt to never do stupid things. I’ve made an art of anti-stupidity. (Not that it’s worked. I’m still pretty stupid a lot of the time.) Embarrassment has been something I’ve not been able to tolerate since childhood. It’s what Big Brother would torture me with. Well, that and tornadoes and spiders and escalators. I guess Big Brother would probably put me on an escalator in the middle of a tornado of spiders and make me embarrassed. Big Brother’s an asshole.

Where was I? I lost myself at “tornado of spiders.”

Right. Stupid.

So I’ve worked so hard to not do anything that could result in myself looking or feeling stupid. Because that’s embarrassing. But holding back so hard you never fuck up means you don’t get to live. I wrote about this earlier this year in terms of relationships, but I’ve also been living it in other aspects of life, too.

One of the cool things about being single again is that I get to learn who I am now. There are certain aspects of myself, or certain interests I have which were “uncool” according to my ex, and I now feel free to explore these things. And since I embraced the flaky earlier this year, I’m finding confidence in me to explore even more new aspects or ideas, even if I look stupid while doing so.

And tonight I looked a little stupid.

We went to the annual holiday celebration in Balboa Park tonight – a family tradition dating back to when my grandpa used to have a shop in Spanish Village. Part of the tradition of the night is a carousel ride. Once the kids had settled in, I found myself on one of the outer ponies. The ones that don’t go up and down. The ones from which you can try to win the brass ring.

It sounds like such a silly thing, to be afraid to catch the brass ring. But it was awkward. First I missed entirely, flailing my arm through the air aimlessly. Another time, I just smacked the ring against my knuckle. And it hurt. And of course, the ride operator is sitting there, carefully watching each attempt and probably judging me.

But on one try, I totally caught a ring. Not the brass one, but I was pretty excited, anyhow. And, of course, when it came time to toss it at the creepy clown face, I totally missed. Which was also stupid. And therefore awesome.

I think I was the only one playing the game, though, which made it less fun and more socially awkward, so at some point, I jumped back into my anti-stupid shell and pretended I was no longer interested. I was so smooth, looking around at all the shiny lights like the ring game totally didn’t ever even exist. Behavior which is not the good kind of stupid.

But it was a step. And it was exciting. And I’m rather proud of myself right now for allowing the stupid to happen if it happens. And you know what? I think that’s kind of smart.

And tomorrow I’m going back to Balboa Park with some grownups who will maybe play the ring game with me and allow me to look really stupid trying it out.

UPDATE: I went back tonight and my friends and I did, indeed, play the ring game. And you know what? I totally grabbed the brass ring! They don’t let you keep it, of course, but they do give you a fancy special ticket you can turn in for a free ride. Or keep forever and ever. Which I might do.

and then i won the brass ring


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10 responses

2 12 2011
Kassie

You had me at “tornado of spiders.”

2 12 2011
chasingthefirefly

I would totally play with you. I’ve never had the opportunity to try for a brass ring.

2 12 2011
bethany actually

I was leaving this long comment here and then I realized, hey, this just might be a blog post. So I deleted it and will just say instead, looking stupid is often all kinds of fun. It’s very freeing, not really caring if other people think you look silly. :-)

3 12 2011
Jess

I thought the brass ring was just something carousels had a long time ago! I’ve never seen one!

3 12 2011
Jess banks

ZOMG, your self-description on this blog made me check to see if I had been ghostwriting in my sleep! Clearly, we are Separated At Birth.

And yes, I would totally play with you too. I’ve found that, by exposing myself to a small amount of regular staring (I dye my hair weird colors; it’s been pink since April), I care a whole lot less about people looking at me when I do the silly things that make me feel good. :)

3 12 2011
Katrina

I had never heard of the brass ring game. Sounds like fun! I kinda want to try it now! And I can completely relate to the beginning of your post! (making every attempt possible not to look stupid or to get embarrassed!) it’s hard to let go sometimes.

3 12 2011
Gemstones « Z E B R A B E L L Y . C O M

[…] I think I’ve done varying degrees of both this year. While working on things like Allowing the Stupid, I’ve had to take a step back in some ways; to become childlike and meet a milestone I never […]

3 12 2011
Claire

Love you so much. That is all.

4 12 2011
Annika

I went on a carousel with the rings once. I’m pretty sure I was old enough to feel embarrassed, and I’m pretty sure I grabbed that ring anyway.

4 12 2011
ZebraBelly

Well, the game itself wasn’t the embarrassing part. It was the part where I was totally without grace while playing it.

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