Yesterday I received an email from a student that really got to me, thought probably not for the reason you think.
This is what it said:
“So do you think I should tone down my enthusiasm a little? I hate to be over the top. I’m just so excited. But I’d hate to turn anyone off. I go home and it’s all I talk about. I just love how it’s all coming together for me. And I live in a state of joy and gratitude but I can tone it down if you think it would help others.”
Messages like this make me want to simultaneously hug everyone and set my hair on fire.
Because I’ve struggled with being “too happy” for other people my whole life. In fact, when other people go to therapy to learn how to express anger, I go to learn how to express joy because it’s been shamed out of me and now I’m afraid to let anyone see how happy I am.
Tone it down.
Stop being so excited.
You’re so unrealistic.
People think you’re stupid when you get excited like that.
Why don’t you just be serious and act smarter?
Plus, if you’re a girl, you might hear all that AND get a big dose of “you should smile more” and “you’re prettier when you smile.”
OMG people! Stop sending mixed messages and for the love of life STOP shaming other people for how they feel.
Why do we assume happy people are dumb?
Why do we have standards for how much happiness is required but shall-not-be-exceeded-lest-you-make-me-uncomfortable-with-your-joy?
Here’s why – because happiness scares people. Yep, I said it: people are afraid to be happy.
Because when you’re happy, your heart is open to possibility. When you’re happy, you trust in the inherent connection between all things. When you’re happy, you have faith and allow yourself to be guided.
All.of.which.mean.you’re.vulnerable. You’re not in control. You’ve gone beyond the boundaries of your little self-defined “me” and opened to your true nature.
All of which is terrifying, and to which, I have one piece of advice – get over it.
The risks of opening far outweigh the fear. Plus, haven’t we had enough of feeling bad already? Haven’t we had enough conflict, drama, alienation, and violence to prove that that’s a shitty way of going about things?
Let’s try loving instead.
So here’s how I responded to the email:
“The only thing I think will help is if you shine even more! If people are uncomfortable with joy, excitement, and the deep contentment that comes from expanding into your own possibilities, then that is on them and not you.
I went through a confusing few years where I renegotiated friendships and relationships to better support and allow for who I was becoming and wanted to be. Luckily if people love you, they want to see you expand, even if the growing pains challenge their own worldview at first.”
Be free. Be brave. Be YOU!