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Tooting my own horn

I haven’t watched Nanette. I want to watch Nanette. I should watch Nanette.

From the trailers, it seems like a soul-searing look at one woman’s story. Someone who is, in her own words, “gender not-normal”.

“I don’t identify as transgender. But I’m clearly gender not-normal. I don’t think even lesbian is the right identity for me. I really don’t. I might as well come out now. I identify as tired. I’m just tired.”

Funny and heart-breaking, Hannah Gadsby puts her life on stage for the world to see in a one-woman stand-up “comedy” show.

From what I can tell, the reception has been phenomenal.

It was this quote from the show that resonated with me.

“I have built a career out of self-deprecating humour and I don’t want to do that anymore. Do you understand what self-deprecation means when it comes from somebody who already exists in the margins? It’s not humility, it’s humiliation. I put myself down in order to speak, in order to seek permission to speak, and I simply will not do that anymore, not to myself or anybody who identifies with me. If that means that my comedy career is over, then, so be it.”

Who hasn’t put themselves down to fit in? I have cracked a joke at my own expense and laughed good-naturedly at that off-coloured jibe because sometimes the alternative was too uncomfortable to face.

Australians are great at laughing at themselves and those they love. We have a way of bringing everyone down to earth. At best, it is funny and fiercely egalitarian. At worst, our humour can seem quite cruel and disrespectful.

And it doesn’t change the fact that it can sometimes hurt. Especially if it is levelled against you and puts you back in your place on the margins. Best to humiliate yourself first. That way you control the sting and soothe it with laughter at the same time.

I wonder what it’s like to “toot my own horn” openly and proudly.

I am the greatest! I’m the greatest thing that ever lived.

Famous words from a famous American boxer. Muhammad Ali made history around the world by walking his talk.

I try whispering his phrase and feel a little embarrassed. I feel like it needs a few qualifications.

I am kinda the greatest. Not so much when I’m driving. I am not the greateset thing that ever lived when I’m trying to reverse park.

What is my favourite trait? I am not sure what I like best about myself and it feels awkward trying to find out what that is.

I turn to my 11-year-old son and ask, “Hey! What is your favourite trait? What do you like most about yourself?”

He looks up from his YouTube channel and flips his legs past his ears.

“It’s my flexibility,” he doesn’t even think about it.

“Seriously? Flexibility is your favourite trait?”

“Yeah. It’s because I can weird out people.” He flips his legs back to a more normal position.

Yes, our son is weirdly flexible and I smile at the fact that he relishes it.

“What do you like best about me? What are my more attractive traits?” I ask him in desperation.

“You’re my mum,” he grins.

It is a sweet answer and my heart melts a little.


It’s funny how I can rattle off my flaws in my head, but find it skin-crawlingly embarrassing to articulate positive traits.

I quickly text my husband.

“Hey, what is your favourite trait? What do you like most about you?”

Two seconds later my phone pings.

Ha! That’s what he thinks.

He is so sexy when he doesn’t want to talk.

I force myself to find something I can shout to the world with all the “I am the greatest” gusto I can muster.

Sometimes, I really love my family.


I knew I could find something.


Featured image by Steve Halama on Unsplash

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September 2018
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