Let’s just get something out of the way — hot women can be funny and vice versa. But if I were a betting woman, I’d guess that you, the person who is known first and foremost as being the funny friend, feel like you’re probably a few standard deviations from a 5 on a scale of 1-10 hotness. Am I right?
You get these positive types of adjectives applied to your looks: adorable, cute ― end of list. And most of all, people tell you how funny you are. I mean, you are a real riot. Sarcastic or clever or great with fart jokes — you really slay at making people laugh.
But here’s the thing: You feel certain, if given the chance, you would trade your sense of humor for a pair of big, round hooters and a Natalie Portman-esque face, because being the funny friend isn’t always fun. Actually, it kind of sucks.
You know the sting of a guy/girl walking over to you and your group of friends and hitting on the girl next to you who is admittedly prettier. You sit there, watching the flirtatious display, acutely aware that at some point, there was a judgment made. Someone looked at you and then looked at the person next to you and made the decision that you were less valuable, desirable, worthy. You understand the embarrassment when people get vocally lusty about some passing woman’s attributes, because you’re sure that no one has looked at you that way. You know that if you were being cast in a movie, you would undoubtedly be the old married shoe and not the leading lady. Never the lead. You just exist in someone else’s story, that’s all.
I feel you girl. Even though I’m older now, and I cannot for the life of me understand the social mores of Snapchat, I feel you. I am the Grownup Funny Girl. And I want to tell you something that it took me 33 years to learn so that maybe it won’t take you so long:
“Funny” can guide you, sustain you, and love you back.
Someone said something to me once. They said, “You show me a beautiful person, and I’ll show you someone who’s tired of fucking them.” Despite this being an awful, crude statement, it caused me to have an epiphany. I realized that being pretty or feminine or poised or put-together had literally zero correlation to happiness and acceptance in the long-term. Being able to wear heels and not walk like Quasimodo didn’t mean that you wouldn’t confidently click through life lonely and isolated. Having Instagram-model makeup skills doesn’t equal fulfillment or enlightenment. These traits and abilities are EXCELLENT for entry into a relationship or job or clique. But that’s it. They get you in to the club but they don’t ensure you’ll have a good time there.
The thing about being funny, unlike a lot of other human characteristics, is that it’s usually a secondary thing. The primary thing is either very bad or very good. Maybe you’re funny because your home life or brain life is shitty and it’s an escape. On the flip side, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who has a warm network of support that gave you the confidence to be your hilarious self. Either way, funny is a signal that someone comes out of something extraordinary. A funny person has capitalized on the positive and minimized the negative; a funny person not only earned this gift but cultivated and practiced it with great care.
Now, this doesn’t mean that funny people can’t be assholes. Or sad. But those funny people likely haven’t learned to deal with why they’re funny in the first place. If you can learn to deal, you’ll find that this gift — the one you’ve single-handedly created from within — was giving back to you the whole time. It was teaching you to try new things, even when you knew that it could result in absolute and utter failure. It was teaching you not to take yourself too seriously, so that you’re able to excel in the face of criticism or adversity. It was teaching you that the world is a ridiculous place, and though there’s heartbreak all around, there’s always a way to find humor in it.
And when you get to a certain age, it teaches you something else. You learn that it doesn’t matter what time or circumstance does to your outsides. As the Funny Girl, the best thing about you has only gotten better with age. It has only enriched your friendships and relationships and helped you succeed at work. It has become more refined, more sophisticated. And you will learn, finally, after all these years, that it means NOTHING if someone is hotter or more popular than you — that those are only currencies and fleeting, meaningless ones that cannot inherently make you or others happy. You have been #blessed with an elusive ability to be an invaluable force of joy. That, my dear sweet girl, is the thing that everyone is searching for: joy. And you’ve had it inside of you this whole time.
This post originally appeared on Medium.