This is for anyone out there who has been mocked or felt shame for being excited and invested. It’s also for all of us who have probably made someone else feel that way at some point.
Here are 5 things to remember whenever you encounter true enthusiasm (your own or someone else’s).
5 Things to Remember About Passion & Enthusiasm:
There’s no reason to let negative comments, facial expressions, or disinterest keep us from experiencing enthusiasm for what we care about.
1. There is no definition of what is worthy.
Enthusiasm and joy are a gift.. The world is a heavy, challenging, and sometimes unwelcoming place. Whether it’s coffee, Transformers, Disney World, or photography, there is no definition for what is worthy of your enthusiasm and passion.
When you find out what gets you pumped up, get on board and leave anyone else’s negativity behind you.
2. There’s no need to justify your enthusiasm to anyone.
Because there is no definition for what’s worthy of our joy, we are under no obligation to justify our enthusiasm. We’re going to run into people who feel the need to mock our favorite things. It’s how we react to their comments/eye rolls that dictates whether they hold any power in those situations.
3. Apathy is a learned behavior.
We’ve all noticed that kids seem to be free of shame for showing their excitement. For some reason, it’s become a part of “growing up” to become (or at least appear) apathetic. Unexcited. Uninterested.
To me, it seems to be tied to the knowledge that life is complicated. We assume that children can feel so enthusiastic because they haven’t experienced the world, or they can’t see the bigger picture.
But what happens when we have all that “grown up” knowledge and we still choose to allow ourselves to get wrapped up in things that make us excited? We reject learned apathy and regain a little of that child-like joy.
4. True enthusiasm is better than being cool.
Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that being “cool” growing up was pretty much the ultimate goal. You could be intelligent, healthy, talented, and a whole list of other things and STILL not be “cool”.
When being cool meant ascribing to a specific set of interests and behaviors, I realized that I didn’t want to be that person anyway.
Some people genuinely enjoy the things that the “cool” people are into, and that’s great for them. But for the rest of us who felt a little too weird or “too much,” losing sight of what truly makes us feel alive is not worth appearing to be “cool”.
In fact, true enthusiasm is incredibly valuable.
5. Enthusiasm is fuel for creativity & joy.
Where would the world be without people who decided to follow truly unbridled enthusiasm for something outside the mainstream? The “cool” people have long-considered that level of interest and excitement to be strange, awkward, uncomfortable, and lame.
History remembers the “weird” enthusiastic people as inventors, leaders, and innovators.
Killing People’s Enthusiasm is a Pride Issue
Whenever we feel the urge to belittle, mock, or ridicule something that is important to someone else, we should seriously examine our motives. Is the false sense of superiority really worth squashing someone else’s enthusiasm and happiness?
Do we really think we’re making the world a better place when we go out of our way to scoff and sneer at someone else’s joy? Why do we do this?
Our Ego is Behind Mocking People’s Enthusiasm
I can only think of one reason. It’s all for the ego boost that comes from feeling like we have a better taste, more experience, or are more socially accepted. We see others behave this way and decide that it’s “cool” to make fun of what other people care about.
Can we all agree that when we take a step back and review those interactions with that in mind, that dissolving someone else’s enthusiasm is 100% not worth it?
We shouldn’t expect people to enjoy the same things that we do. This world would be a very boring place if there weren’t differing opinions and preferences to give us color.
Being really into something that makes you feel happy and excited should be celebrated.
Two Ways to Support Enthusiasm in Others
The next time that you are a part of a conversation or event during which someone opens up about their passion for something, I am challenging myself (and you now) to have one of the following two reactions:
Smile and Ask a Question:
Sometimes someone is enthusiastic about something we don’t understand. Instead of saying something like, “yeah, I just don’t get why people are into _____,” we can support their enthusiasm by asking them a question.
Give them an opportunity to share more about it. You might not end up matching their excitement, but you might learn something new.
Highlight their Enthusiasm:
Even if you can’t come up with a question to ask, you can highlight how great enthusiasm looks on them.
When someone is excited about something, saying to them “I think it’s really great that you’re so invested and excited about ____,” is so much better than raising your eyebrows, nodding, and then finding a reason to walk away.
True enthusiasm and excitement is worth encouraging — even when we’re not interested in the same things.
Improving Ourselves by Being Kind to Others
I’m on a mission to become a better version of myself every day. Sometimes it means handling my money more responsibly, working through anxiety, or prioritizing healthy relationships.
When it comes to building-up other people’s enthusiasm, I think we can all benefit from focusing on being kind and more supportive. Instead of trying to assert ourselves as an authority of “good taste” and the “right way” to do things, we can share in other people’s passion. We can spread their joy without necessarily having to find joy in the same things.
Sometimes we just need to be a little more intentional — and a little less critical.