“How often are you checking that website, Renata?” Josh asked me in a panic as I sent him a link for a freelance opportunity that I had sent him several days that week.
“Oh, I don’t know. I just leave the link up on the browser on my phone, so I just check it throughout the day.”
“You seem obsessed with this one thing. Maybe tone it down a bit.”
“Yeah…I don’t really do that.”
It’s really no secret around here that I have a bit of an obsessive personality. I definitely have a tendency to obsess over certain things or opportunities that I find particularly exciting. Living with anxiety means that I’m constantly thinking about the future and that I struggle to live in the present, but that doesn’t always mean that I’m imagining the worst-case scenario. In fact, oftentimes while I’m living in the future in my head it’s actually a good future, where I’m living exactly the life that I want.
Undoubtedly, there is merit to living in the moment and being present, and I would love to master that skill, but still, living in an optimistic version of the future is just where I’m at. I will literally not be able to sleep when I find something I’m excited about, which is a big deal because sleeping is my favorite activity.
For those of you who don’t know, Josh (my editor/ex/podcast cohost) and I dated for over a year and have been friends for more than four, and he knows my habits better than almost anyone else. So you can imagine how annoyed I was when I was told to “tone it down a bit.” Tone what down, exactly?! Myself?
“I just don’t want this to not pan out and for you to be destroyed.”
“Well, yeah, of course I’ll be destroyed if this doesn’t work out, but I’ll get over it.”
This is literally how I’ve approached everything in my life — get super excited about something and obsess about it repeatedly, then deal with reality later. And because I’m an extrovert who basically needs to tell everyone around me everything about me in order to survive, I love to share the things I’m excited about (although I’ve had to work on swallowing my pride in order to be vulnerable enough to share about opportunities I might not get!).
I can’t tell you how many freelancing opportunities that I’ve gotten, namely because of my enthusiasm. When I’m excited about something, I wear it plainly on my face and word it plainly in my writing. I let my passion shine through and become obsessed in the best possible way. Hell, I usually tell my freelance clients that it will take me several days or weeks to get something done since I have a full-time job, but usually, I just complete the job within a matter of hours, because I’m just too excited to wait!
In fact, I have a bad habit of overlooking the bad parts of things because I’m so excited about the good facets (hence going through undergrad as a Neuroscience major with the intention of becoming a genetic researcher or applying to graduate school even though deep down, I knew that Student Affairs wasn’t for me). Recently, I started coaching school and yet again I completely put up my blinders and ignored everything that I wouldn’t like about coaching. Sure, I’ve never wanted to build my own business, but I’m helping people! Yeah, I hate randos approaching me on the internet, but I’ll get over that! Wow, do I hate marketing myself, but you know you can’t enjoy everything about what you do!
I completely ignored all of the signs that I shouldn’t start my own coaching practice until I was in a full panic spiral and rethinking my entire life. At the end of the day, I’m glad that I’m getting my certification and I’ve learned a lot from it, but I realistically knew the entire time that I didn’t want to build my own business. I just ignored the signs instead of listening to my gut.
For undergrad, graduate school and creating a coaching business, the way that I realized that they weren’t for me was my relative lack of enthusiasm. While I was somewhat excited, the people around me seemed to be over the moon. When I was in undergrad studying Neuroscience, the other people in my major kept talking about internships and research presentations. When I went to interview at graduate school, people kept talking about all of these conferences to make them better professionals. As an entrepreneur, other entrepreneurs kept excitedly talking about creating and taking different courses and resources to make more money and better their businesses. When those around me are so much more excited than I am, I know that it’s time to step back and reassess. Enthusiasm is what I’m all about. Hell, one of my main Enneagram types is “The Enthusiast.” My comfort zone is being the super enthusiastic one in the room — it’s a red flag to me if everyone else is excited and I’m indifferent.
But it can take me forever to realize how unenthusiastic I am about certain things. I just get so pumped about the good things and get swept up in my visions of an awesome future. I like to compare my enthusiastic nature to that of a sea sponge who is very near and dear to me, Spongebob Squarepants. He was a big part of my childhood, after all, but many people have called out his personality flaw of overly romanticizing things to the point where he legitimately thinks that everything will go exactly as he imagines, and therefore finds himself completely crashing when something doesn’t go as he anticipated. I can absolutely relate. Honestly though, there are worse traits to have.
The only reason that this sometimes bites me in the butt is my all-or-nothing personality. When you see things in black and white, you can have a hard time remembering that you can feel differently about different facets of the same thing. Once I realized that I didn’t want to build a coaching business, I wanted to distance myself as much as I could from coaching. Seeing other coaches promoting themselves on FaceBook made me cringe and I had to take a break from giving sample sessions because I just can’t be partially into something. I need to have both feet in or neither. I just need to be overly enthusiastic to be able to do something.
Enthusiasm and dreaming of the future is who I am. While I recognize that it can leave me crashing down from dreaming too big, I would still rather have the big dreams in the first place. To paraphrase Shakesphere, “Tis better to have dreamed big and had all of your hopes and dreams come crashing down on you than never to have dreamed at all.”