Dopamine and humor

I was a witty kid. I have vivid memories of instances of rather refined humor for a kid so young.

The Left Behind series was huge when I was a kid, and we watched the movie several times. I knew what the rapture was and what it’s going to look like when it happens.

We were at home, and my mom was doing laundry. She said something about all the missing socks. Obviously, that is one of the world’s greatest mysteries. But I knew exactly what caused it; I said, “Was there a sock rapture or something?”

I was eight or nine, and I remember my mom laughing and she might’ve shared what I said with my dad. I was pretty proud of myself, and I still think it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever said.

Around that same age, I remember being in the car and seeing a sign that said, “Save the trees.” The sign looked like it was made of wood. I don’t think I knew what the word irony meant, but I pointed out the oddity to my family.

“Isn’t it weird that the save the tree sign is made out of wood?”

That got some laughs, too.

I cannot remember the first time I realized I like making people laugh. I didn’t always make a conscious effort to get laughs as a kid, but I know I loved it when people laughed at things I said and did.

I was salutatorian of my middle school (don’t ask), and at our 8th grade graduation (again, don’t ask), I gave a speech. I do not remember anything I said, but I know I went for laughs, and I got them.

In high school, I was a bit of a loner, but when I did hang out with people, I didn’t get much air time. I didn’t really want it, either. I had some funny friends, and I enjoyed being entertained.

College was pretty much the same story, but adding humor and laughter to gatherings was still one of my missions.

Last fall, I spoke at my grandfather’s funeral, and I knew the only way I’d get through it is if I made people laugh.

I’ve been doing Toastmasters since last summer, so I felt pretty comfortable with the public speaking aspect. I just didn’t know how my emotions were going to show up.

I got a ton of laughs, which felt amazing. Speaking at his funeral is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. People were very affirming afterwards, which made it extra special.

After speaking at my grandfather’s funeral, I felt like I found my voice and that my voice matters. I honestly didn’t think people would ever care about what I have to say.

Since then, I’ve been more open to opportunities to speak publicly (I’ve even volunteered on a few occasions). My voice matters, and I want to be an advocate for people with a mental illness.

Each time I write a speech, I know that getting laughs at the front end is vital to calming my nerves.

And when I hear people laugh at something I said, my body is flooded with dopamine, and I know I am enough.


You can find the speech I gave at my grandfather’s funeral here.

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