"I hope life isn't a big joke, because I don't get it." - Jack Handey
There's not a quote I can think of that more succinctly nails the way I've felt most of my life. If there is a punchline, I absolutely don't get it. This is most likely the reason I've re-purposed said quote dozens of times. Social media, bios, blogs, essays, and what's this? I need a headline for Tinder? GOT IT!
However abundant the placement of this one-liner might be, none can rival the prime real estate it received when it landed directly below my senior picture in the Poudre High School yearbook. (Say it with me: Poo-tur. That's right.) This picture was taken at the local Glamour Shots using the "Barbara Walters" lens, which so nicely hid the smattering of acne along with any hint that my face has bones, or that I have a neck.
Perhaps it was the lens. Perhaps it was the Duncan Hines birthday cake foundation. (Perhaps that sweater is incomplete without shoulder pads.)
Regardless, facial structure wasn't the only thing that was blurred out. My excruciating resentment towards myself and any other human I came into contact with was also significantly muted. By the time this picture was taken, I was so engulfed with rage that not even a feather boa and a sassy animal print could've added joy to this photo. I just didn't get the joke!
The songs on my first album were about the rage I felt towards a family I felt didn't understand or accept me. Rage towards a religion that told me I was sick. Rage towards that weird stirring I got in my pants when I flipped through an issue of Men's Health. (Don't worry, it's just a link to one of my songs.)
I hated everything. My acne made me feel ugly, my "gayness" made me feel weird, and my anger made me feel powerless and out of control. Do you see the key word here? MY. Meaning myself. Meaning I was creating this awful reality due to circumstances that were completely out of my control, but left me full of fear and loneliness. Still. Didn't. Get the joke.
Another quote that nails it: "You're only lonely if you don't like the person you're alone with." (Wayne Dyer) That was the key. When I look at the boy in the picture above, I wish I could tell him that one day he wouldn't feel so broken and damaged. That one day, he wouldn't just see flaws when he looked in the mirror. He'd see a beautifully damaged soul that resiliently pulled through the multitude of traumas that were thrown its way. I wish I could whisper in his ear, "someday this pain will be useful to you."
I wish I could tell him anything that would make it better, but I'm absolutely sure I still wouldn't be able to let him in on the joke.
I'd love to know your favorite quote, or a story about your senior picture in the comments below!