Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Life > Experiences

We Have No Time for Self-Deprecation!

Updated Published
The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

For the longest time, I have relied on self-deprecating jokes in order to come off as humorous, approachable, and most importantly: relatable. To me, making jokes about things I was insecure about, such as the nose I feel is slightly too big for my face, or how clumsy I am, felt like the right thing to do. As someone who had a hard time fitting in at school, all I wanted to do was get people to like me, and self-deprecating humor was something that simply worked. I made tons of people in life laugh and I made some friendships that I thought were fulfilling at the time all because of my ability to self-deprecate. 

However, there was a moment in which I realized just how much my self-deprecating humor was actually not a skill, and that it was something that was actually hurting me in the long run. In high school, I was a member of my school’s speech and debate team. One event that I frequently participated in was impromptu speech, an event where you are given a random topic, and then you have to give a 5 minute speech. To be honest, I cannot remember what exactly the speech was supposed to be about, but what I did remember was that I wanted to appear likable to the judge, who looked like they were just fresh out of high school. Therefore, to make myself appear likable, before I started my actual speech, I cracked a self-deprecating joke about my confidence levels in front of the judge. Unfortunately, I did not end up making it to the next round. And, what made it worse was that the judge actually wrote the following note on my scorecard: “Your speech was great, but your self-deprecating jokes give off a lack of confidence, which was why I did not let you pass through.” I remember crying so hard after that; knowing that the judge thought I didn’t have enough confidence destroyed me, as at the time I truly believed that I gave it my all and deserved to move forward. But then, I realized that at the end of the day, I created my own self-fulfilling prophecy and the judge simply called me out for it. Because I said I was not confident, the judge took my word for it and didn’t bother to look beyond it. 

That speech and debate competition was a big turning point in my life. I slowly started to realize how so many other situations in my life were heavily influenced by my “humor choices.” I realized that people were less likely to give me compliments, and that was because I always turned them around into ways to rag on myself. I even remembered a friend of mine who was also romantically interested but never pursued it because it was difficult to be around me; I always had a “rain cloud” over my head. That was because I let my insecurities become both my humor and my shield. I believed deeply in my self-deprecating humor and eventually that was how I appeared to others: unconfident, unsure, difficult to be around. Moreover, my lack of self-esteem was preventing me from accomplishing things that I wanted to have, ranging from winning speech and debate competitions to romantic relationships. 

That is why one of my life goals for myself has been to let go of my self-deprecating habits, especially as I go on into law school. From my own experiences, and from psychologists confirming that self-deprecation does have an effect on our relationships, self-deprecation is just something that one cannot afford to carry with them ever. From documentation of the phenomena of racial gaslighting to direct evidence of women not being taken seriously in the legal field, there are already so many barriers impeding on my potential success. Now more than ever, I need to be more confident in my own abilities, and I need to trust myself that I will indeed make it in spaces that haven’t been open to people like me in the past. The last thing that I need to do is self-deprecate, and as a result, have people not trust or believe in me to do things well, especially when they are less likely to trust me in the first place due to factors out of my control. 

That’s why I believe it’s time to leave self-deprecating habits behind. It’s something that I am still, to this day, working on cutting out from my book of humor, but I know that it will be worth it. After all, I (and honestly you too…) simply don’t have time for it!

Brinda Kalita

UC Riverside '24

4th year history major with opinions on anything and everything