This morning, someone whom I respect very much called me inspirational. Instead of ranting about that, I am going to write about something I have been thinking about for a while: people with disabilities and conditions often compensate with humor.
The late Stella Young and the late Robin Williams were outrageously funny. Stella had brittle bone disease and Robin Williams struggled with depression. Laurence Clark, Josh Blue, and Maysoon Zayid are all comedians with cerebral palsy. People with disabilities often overcompensate and can do so by being funny.
One of my best friends has a disability and he’s very funny. He loves making people laugh. Sometimes, he calls me or leaves me voicemails with funny accents or posts funny things on Facebook to make me laugh. It’s one of the things I love the most about him: he likes to make other people happy. I didn’t know he had a disability until someone told me, but I understand now that his humor might be one of the ways that he compensates. Whatever the reason for his humor, it’s still really nice to have a friend who goes out of his way to make me laugh.
I think we all have our own ways of compensating. When I was more talkative and open than I am now, people said I was funny; I loved to make people laugh. The only downside to being known for being funny is that people expect it of you all the time, and you don’t always have the best one-liner or wisecrack ready at just the right moment. It can sometimes feel like you disappoint the people around you when you’re not Funny All The Time if they have come to expect it of you.
I still think humor is one of the best ways to compensate for anything that makes you feel insecure. It’s also one of the best ways to diffuse sadness, tension, anxiety, and frustration when you come up against difficult or painful experiences. If you find what’s funny about them, you can make it through and it doesn’t seem as unbearable.