You haven’t skated for ages, and you know you are going to make a complete fool of yourself. So you start making jokes about your Olympic skating abilities, and every time you fall, you bow. You and your friends are laughing, and there are no hurt feelings.
You have a major presentation to give, and although you are nervous about it, you play it off as if you are super confident. You take questions and answer thoughtfully, and don’t make jokes if you stumble on words. You smile, but professionally, and at the end, you get great feedback about your performance.
The key is place and time.
It’s important to laugh at yourself every once in awhile, because mistakes can be easier to make when you know you can laugh about it. Plus, if you find yourself funny, it easily turns “laughing AT you” into “laughing WITH you”. Learning to laugh at mistakes can result in a lot less pain.
But at the same time, in a world where professionalism is respected, it can be seen as immature or uncommitted if you find everything you do funny. And although laughter is the best medicine, it is not always the best way to seem qualified for a job.
It’s all really a matter of code-switching. If you are with a group of friends that you trust, or family members, telling stories about mistakes you’ve made can be a great way to start conversation or blow off some steam. But a teacher or boss might see this laughter as a lack of maturity or confidence. Save some of your laughter for later, when you are with the right people. And keep your serious self ready for the presentation you have to give in front of a large, judging crowd.
Know your spaces. Almost everything you can do has an element of learning to laugh and an element of learning to believe in yourself. It can take a few times to find what the balance is, but once it is found, it can allow confidence to built, and and keep ego in check.