I love to laugh. I mean, who doesn't, right? But I, and my family, really love it. We go out of our way to find things to make us laugh, and we have spent many happy hours together guffawing until our stomachs hurt.
I have a very distinctive laugh. I've been told it's infectious, I've been told it's joyful, but most often I've been told...it's loud. How loud you ask? Well, someone once told me that they were in the grocery store, heard my laugh from afar and thought to themselves, "Oh, Rachel must be in Produce." It's not a nasal, Fran Drescher type of laugh, nor is it a raucous howling one, it's more the sound of a regular laugh, just dialed up a few notches. (It is often accompanied by my head thrown back or the occasional clapping of my hands together.)
I bring this up is because today in the store I was sharing a laugh with one of the clerks, and as I walked away another clerk peeked her head out from one of the aisles and said, "I love your laugh. It's so boisterous." To which I replied, "Really? Some people hate it." To which she replied, "Oh no - it's great!" I smiled, thanked her, and as I left the store I got to thinking about those people who have told me to my face just how annoying and unnecessary my lively and energetic laugh is.
I realized something in that moment. Every single one of those people falls into the category of being one of the most miserable people I have ever met. It seems like they don't like loud laughter because they don't know what to do with that much joy in close proximity. They don't know how to laugh at anything, so a great deal of laughter must make them very uncomfortable.
If enough people tell you something about yourself, whether it's right or wrong, you begin to believe it. As a result, I have consciously held myself back from laughing in the presence of these people (and others too) because I didn't want to offend them, nor did I want to risk being verbally put down again. But what does that do? It suppresses my sparkle and my love for life because these people can't handle it. I'm bringing myself down, to their level of darkness, because they can't stand the light. One could argue that these people need to be exposed to laughter and joy the most.
I wish it could be the other way around - I wish that being around happiness could bring unhappy people up to a level of joy where they can feel comfortable to laugh and enjoy life themselves. But in my experience, that rarely happens.
Which makes me holding back my happiness absolutely ridiculous! What's the point? My loud, exuberant laugh is part of who I am, and no one should ever subdue something that is a part of them, no matter how people might react or how they will be viewed.
So, to laugh, or not to laugh? I have learned that some people will laugh along with me, and some people will shake their heads in disgust. But I'll tell you this, those of us who are laughing will be having a great time enjoying life. Care to join me? I'll be in Produce.