When I was a little girl, I was pretty enthusiastic about everything. Some people that know me well are quite aware that I haven't really outgrown this tendency...like at all. Through the years, I've learned how to handle that tendency to want to start making plans and putting a plan into motion by keeping it to myself. I've learned that uber-planning with a side order of detailed lists and a ridiculous amount of detail tends to scare people.
So, on the inside I might be jumping up and down, but on the outside...not so much. I've tried to be excited about whatever it is without going overboard. Of course, everyone's definition of "overboard" is different. There are some people that I know and love who are so over the top that I just grab onto their apron strings and hold on for dear life. These are the women who can pull together a party, tea, shower, debut or "sip-and-see" with such aplomb that Southern Living could derive inspiration instead of the other way around. But their expertise is not only in the conception of an idea...it is in the execution of it as well. They hear good news...get excited...and then plan and pull off the perfect party. I like to think of this as "captive" enthusiasm. Think "laser" and you'll pretty much see how this comes off. They take something powerful and use it skillfully to accomplish what they want done.
I'm less like a laser and more like a random lightning storm. Powerful...agreed. But pretty much all over the place. There's a lot of light and brilliance...but there's also the occasional power outage or something gets hit and catches on fire. The storms are also incredibly difficult to predict.
My mother says that when I was little I used to build things up so much in my imagination that the reality of the situation when it finally arrived never quite met my expectations. I was the kid who thought something up and then tried to make it happen. Shockingly, it worked in a lot of cases. But most of the time I found that there were huge gaps of reality missing or that people didn't share my enthusiasm in most areas. At worst...I had to learn to deal with things not working out well. At best...it came somewhat close to what I had hoped for.
Let's just say that I found out that the worst needed to be planned for and anticipated so that I could avoid curling up in the fetal position on the couch with a half gallon of ice cream and a spoon.
Not that I haven't actually done that when I'm happy. Because I totally have.
Anyway, as I went into the working world I found that this pattern of high hopes was really great and a real drag at the same time. I'd get excited about something I was selling or a loan I wanted to do for a customer but had to get it through the approval process. At one institution I worked for, this meant that I had to get it past the Credit Administrator from the third circle of Hades. Since he is no longer with us, I can only hope that his heart was right. If not, I can't imagine what job he has working for Satan, Inc. Probably the same one.
Anyway, after surviving him for five years, I did eventually learn to control my enthusiasm. In other words, I learned to condense it from a 24 page offering report to something far shorter and less repetitive. I wrote every word with a careful eye on what he would find and pin me to the wall on...like some insect in a shadow box. Needless to say, I learned how to cut to the chase, figured out how to protect the bank and do something better for the customer than my competition was doing, and was able to keep the desire to beat him about the face under control. I could even seethe and smile simultaneously.
When I left there, I fought the impulse to send him a thank you note for making my life so difficult. I shouldn't have..and should have taken the time to do so. He died at a fairly young age, relatively speaking, within six months of when I left the bank. I am sure that he didn't know that I appreciated the training via fire that he gave me that has made it possible to do the job I do today. I'm equally sure that he couldn't have cared less had he known. So perhaps it is just as well.
Because of my desire to do a good job and the obstacles that were in front of me, a coworker of mine used to say that if they named a church after me it would be called "Our Lady of Perpetual Disappointment." That is painfully close to the truth.
Enthusiasm with a great outcome is magical. Enthusiasm with a poor outcome turns into disappointment.
I've spent a lot of time in my life being disappointed. And that is in a word...ridiculous.
I think the reason that a lot of people lack enthusiasm is because they've spent a lot of their lives putting their "light under a bushel," so to speak. Two common drivers of behavior are the need to be included...and the need to be significant in some way. Most people will tone down their personalities or behave in a manner externally that is inconsistent with how they feel inside to be included. I know I have.
At some point in time, we all face that place where we have to decide if we want to be what God created us to be, or if we want to be popular. Sometimes we can be both. That's fun.
There is so much that we can get enthusiastic about in life. I get excited when someone tells me good news, when something goes better than expected, or when I am pleasantly surprised. Other times, I just try to dream up things that will make people happy if I am able to pull it together. It can be as simple as offering something to someone or doing something more than other people expect. Maybe it brings them joy...I'm not always sure. But I do know that it makes me happy...which only encourages me to look for something else to get excited about.
Enthusiastic people are usually a lot of fun to be around. I use the term "usually" because there is a subset of the group that gets excited about everything. Over time, we no longer know what they are truly enthusiastic about...so we tend to start overlooking things a little bit...because we've been down that road before. I don't know about you...but in this economy...I'm up for all of the enthusiasm I can find.
So, here's a short list of what I am enthusiastic about right now:
My sister, nephew, niece, daughter and mother will be here this weekend, and I've enjoyed having my in-laws here this week.
I'm on vacation Friday, Monday and Tuesday.
Guacamole that I am making with my friend Beve's recipe.
A book that Libbie mailed me that I am thoroughly enjoying.
Big Dave and I are about to celebrate our 26th wedding anniversary on July 7th.
The Foo Fighters poster on the back of the door in my office at work.
The fact that I just made $107 on eBay for selling stuff I no longer need.
My son is feeling better.
The sorority recommendation letters that I was asked to write have all been mailed.
The bills for July have been paid.
My Sunday School class.
SEC football will be back in about 60 days.
Jesus loves me.
Life is good.
The fact that you have taken the time to read this blog.