I’m Always Self-Deprecating And It’s Killing My Game

I constantly put myself down for laughs—I can’t help it. It’s happened on dates before when I tried to be funny with a dash of self-deprecating humor to ease the tension. But honestly, it’s not a good idea and just made me feel pathetic. Here’s why I need to stop.

  1. I laugh at myself so no one can laugh at me. Self-deprecation is a protective strategy for me. I imagine that if I can tease myself and crack a joke about my crazy hair in the humid weather or how I’m so clumsy, no one can really hurt me about those flaws. I rise above them.
  2. I end up feeling like a clown. Making jokes about myself like I’m on stage isn’t cool. I’m not on stage. I’m in a real-life situation and I don’t want to seem like I’m a crazy, clownish person. I want to be taken seriously.
  3. Guys really aren’t into it. I remember one guy I knew told me that I was becoming annoying by always putting myself down. Yes, I was funny and made him laugh, but it looked like there were deeper issues going on. Ouch. He was so right.
  4. I try to seem confident but that’s easier said than done. There’s confidence wrapped up in humor and self-deprecation. It shows that I’m comfortable in my skin and can put myself down without it being a big deal. The only problem? I’m not comfortable in my skin. Sometimes I’m awkward AF and people can see that. Instead of coming across as confident, I come off as totally insecure.
  5. The laughter is fake. When I try to make fun of myself, I’m actually not having a fun time. I’m trying to ease tension or make people like me. Period. After those interactions, I’m left feeling depressed. Self-deprecation is tied to low self-esteem. It doesn’t make me feel good because it’s not natural.
  6. I know it’s basically fishing for compliments. A few times I thought that if I said something about myself that wasn’t flattering, the guy I was on a date with would boost my confidence by saying, “No, you’re not clumsy/silly/ugly!” He’d show me that I was worthy. Ugh. Who cares what he thinks and why must I do that?
  7. I’m hard on myself—aren’t we all? Sometimes my self-deprecation actually stems from being my number one critic. I don’t want people to think I fall short so I use self-deprecation as a way of saying, “Hey, I know I messed up, but I’m going to try harder. I’m so stupid sometimes!” A 2014 study by Personality & Spirituality found that self-deprecation can be an irresistible urge to present ourselves as lower than other people. Why? To prevent people from being disappointed in us.
  8. I don’t want to be a damsel in distress. When people say that I’m too hard on myself or I shouldn’t talk badly about myself, my self-deprecation backfires on me. I realize that I’m no better than a damsel in distress, looking like I’m fishing for compliments, and I definitely don’t want to be that person!
  9. I don’t want to fear being judged. I’m afraid that people will judge me harshly if I make a mistake or I’m not as good as I feel I can be, so I use self-deprecation. It’s like saying,”Sorry, I suck! Don’t hate me.” Ugh. You know what really sucks? That I can’t help but worry about what people think of me. Screw that. I don’t need to apologize for making mistakes. I’m human.
  10. I like to make people laugh. Throughout my whole life, I’ve loved making people laugh. Humor is a great way to connect with people and bond with a romantic partner. But when it takes the form of self-deprecation, the joke sometimes gets lost. I remember once going on a date with a guy and I was feeling uncomfortable about my hair after I’d got stuck in a storm, so I said, “My hair’s such roadkill today, ugh.” He didn’t laugh. It just made me seem self-centered.
  11. I hate the pressure to be carefreeBeing able to laugh at myself and not give a damn about anything sounds good in theory, but in real life, it’s a cop-out. I feel too much to be the super-carefree woman, and I’d rather be real than try to mask everything with a hair-toss and chuckle at my expense. I’m better than that.
  12. It’s a way to level the playing field. If I’m making fun of myself, I feel like I’m sending out the message that I come in peace and I’m not competitive. But why? Why should I feel like I’ve got to walk on eggshells and make people see me as a timid puppy instead of a brave tiger? Screw that. I want to be the tiger!
  13. It keeps me out of the spotlight. It’s not just fear of being judged for how I fall short that makes me turn to self-deprecation. Surprisingly, sometimes it’s the attention for being great at something that makes me feel uncomfortable. So if someone compliments me, calling me smart, funny, or creative, I don’t want them to feel like I’m full of myself, so I’ll make a joke about how I’m really not those things. Ugh. Really? How ridiculous. Can’t I just own my talents?
  14. Self-deprecation hides my best qualities. When I’m focusing so much on self-deprecation, I’m hiding all my great qualities from view. So, instead of connecting with people as I think I am, I’m actually pushing them away because I’m living behind a mask. Life’s too short. I’d rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I’m not.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.