A very dear friend of mine recently started a Masters in Psychology. I’ve had the chance to find out more about the course and chat over some of the module content. My friend and I are quite an enthusiastic pair in general and I think we both have a healthy dose of optimism and are always looking for the positive in situations. So it’s not really any surprise that I’ve found myself really enjoying talking about research and psychology. Even to the point of hashing over research paradigms and philosophy over dinner! To some people this might seem ‘uncool’. But we’re both enthusiastic about these things – we wouldn’t be committing years of our lives to studying it otherwise! What would be the point?
But these conversations have really made me realise how ‘playing it cool’ is seriously, seriously uncool. If you’re enthusiastic or excited about something, why hide it? Why squash it down, feign disinterest and deny yourself the joy or fun you could have?
I thought about this some more and to me it seemed like it might come down to what other people may think of us. Somewhere along the line being completely enthused and excited about something became uncool. And perhaps we’re afraid of being shot down by someone who doesn’t understand what we love. Maybe if we keep it a secret we can keep it protected?
When I think about the people I admire the most and the people whose company I most enjoy they all talk about something they love, they all have something they are passionate about. And it doesn’t matter what it is, whether I like it or not, it is such a joy to see someone doing or talking about something they love. All these people have one thing in common. They completely, unashamedly ‘geek out’ on something. The enthusiasm and curiosity these people have is infectious. Those of us in education know what a difference it can make if a lecturer or teacher is genuinely and visibly excited by what they are teaching.
Quite simply – it’s inspiring.
I think that we are seriously missing out when we ‘play it cool’ about something. It’s so easy to be pulled into the less positive or enthusiastic attitudes of others. Which is why it’s important to surround yourself with those who are encouraging and curious. I can sometimes find myself feeling open minded about something but then pulled into the ‘this is boring’ or ‘this is going to be a waste of time’ mindset of others. Which of course then changes the way I’ll be thinking about whatever it is. My mind will be looking out for evidence that it is boring or a waste of time. A mindset of ‘this could be interesting’ or ‘this might help me with…’ however, will prime my brain to be on the lookout for things that will do just that.
I guess my recent experiences with my friend have reminded me how good it can feel to be enthused or excited about something – and to show that and engage with it in a whole hearted and truthful way.
Coming back to what others might think about us. Is it worth hiding our enthusiasm in fear of that? Especially when there are undoubtedly people out there who will be just as enthusiastic as us? When we might be able to engage in fun and interesting conversation with them? Develop collaborations? Learn something?
I count myself as very lucky to have an enthusiastic and encouraging friend I can riff with about things we both love. But had I not openly shared those loves and interests – would I have found that kindred spirit?
Playing it cool protects us from judgement, without a doubt, but it also limits us in terms of connection and opportunities.
Finally, think about the people who inspire you – the people who share their enthusiasm. You never know who you could inspire by unashamedly geeking out about something.
Til next time 🙂