Posted in Of Psyche

Of Enthusiasm

Scene from Enchanted (2007)

Quite cynically, I could have called this blog post ‘Of Cynicism’. But, to avoid that, is my exact purpose in writing this.

I can be quite a lot to take. I know. I can feel the awkwardness whenever I step into a room, or any degree of a social circle, any unit of civilization. I can feel their perceptions transmitted to me, “Who is this oddity? She looks plain, but she thinks too highly of herself.” They can sense my nervousness, but any pity they might have felt is quickly dispelled, when I open my mouth to speak. This deep, raspy voice begins, it speaks at the speed of light, alternating between stutters and a BBC broadcaster, with a propensity to giggle nearly constantly, whatever the situation. Any textbook introvert is relieved at my exit, anyone given to b*tchiness delighted at some new material to ridicule.

But, it all has to come from somewhere, and I can’t only label it as pop psychology’s favourite term: self-loathing. Happiness can even be self-induced, self-infectious, and my giggling can make me warm and fuzzy inside. You see, I think I’ve solved it. I think I understand why I am a lot to take, why I can’t adjust to everyday cynicism as a normal person. Why I, sometimes, feel I have the value system of 90s Disney films, even if I haven’t watched most of them. This is it:

People go on and on about how writing, and the arts in general, is about self-expression. It certainly is an expression, and whether you express your Self in it or not, it certainly came from you. I have a frustration, a hunger. I’ve had it for years, and it only keeps getting stronger. But, my Self, and my Expression are two parallel streams that never seem to converge. When they converge for other people, they have epiphanies, beliefs, purpose, love, finished books etc. But, I just have these two, conflicting halves that never meet, of a single self that cannot conveniently be termed manic-depressive, or by some personality disorder.

And so, I try to take it positively. At least, I try to accept it, since there is no way of curing myself of either one of the halves, or keeping them in check. It is said that mood disorders are like the weather, you never know when the storms will come, or when it will be sunny again. But, that sort of duality doesn’t exist for me, because they co-exist. I’m enthusiastic in my melancholy, and I’m enthusiastic in my enthusiasm. But, even my melancholy cannot take the cynicism of this world.

Only a small incident sparked this giant reflection. Someone was rude to me. They acted as though I was beneath them, and undeserving of their civility, much less, respect. I was quick to reason, for as life has show so far in synergy with my Disney values, there is no profession or station in life in this world that justifies such behaviour. Even if you cure cancer, end hunger or are an alien secretly ruling this planet, it is always your insecurity that drives such arrogance, and no magnitude of achievement can justify it. But, why does it still hurt? Because, I smile too much. I talk too much. I am too civil.

I don’t need to be. I can throw my weight around too. I can believe I’m better than everyone else, as some seem to suspect anyway. Hey, it might even give me the courage and confidence to finish those books. I know there is much to change. That, this natural enthusiasm for life, this Disneyness of it all, has to be tempered. If possible, removed. And an adult cynicism to take its place, and make things a lot easier in reality. However, please allow me this last piece of civility: F*** you. F***  your embittered arrogance, your zombie-like existence, your cruelty towards anybody who wants to make anything more out of their lives, your insatiable negative enthusiasm at anybody wanting to be slightly less miserable in life than you. You can take your cynical attitude and shove it up your already occupied-with-a-stick backside. You can’t change, and I won’t change either to please you. We’ll just have to agree to disagree, though I suspect you’ll keep thinking you’re right and I’m wrong. And I agree with you, because I’ll keep thinking that too.

How do you handle cynicism?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

34 thoughts on “Of Enthusiasm

  1. You sounds like a highly intelligent person! I have to admit that I had to reread a few parts of this, just so I could fully grasp where you’re coming from. Scarily you seem to be accurately describing me with a lot this description (well written too by the way!)

    I think I have a reputation for being a cynic. Yet, I am capable of having thoughts on both ends of the spectrum – highly idealised and hopelessly pessimistic. I never seem to be able to attain a balance between the two.

    1. Thank you for your generous comment! If you can have thoughts on both extremes, I’d say you aren’t a full-fledged cynic. I’m talking about people who really seem dead inside, and what’s more, they don’t even feel bad about it. They take the moral high ground, and feel everyone should look at the world as they do, or they are idiots. There’s a quote that goes something like – when a cynic smells flowers, he looks for a coffin. Of course, people can be pessimistic. Most are, from time to time. That’s only a human response to the world around you. But, there are too many people out there who gloat over it, criticize people who aren’t so, and never realise how they actually are much better off than a lot of people, who suffer so much and yet have hope and persistence. I’d rather spend my time with the latter, than waste it on the former.

      Thank you for reading!

  2. Cynicism is brutal and I wish I could say I have a brilliant rejoinder to offer when it happens but most of the time I just scamper away, muttering to myself about how feeble I feel. But when I actually respond, I prefer to answer in a tone different than the one who has dished out the cynicism. It allows me to feel like I have taken the conversation back for myself. Doesn’t always work but it makes me feel better. Sorry someone was so rude to you though!

    1. Thank you, Robert! I believe your birthday is around this time, as you previously mentioned, so happy birthday (belated/advanced)!

      It was actually a number of people, which made it even worse. I’ve always had people condescendingly telling me I’m child-like/happy-go-lucky etc, but this was like an onslaught of condescension. I’m prone to giggling and smiling, but that doesn’t make me stupid, does it?

      I could react, and I can get very sarcastic, or even speak slowly and carefully, like a modern villain (someone like Loki from The Avengers) when I’m mid-level angry, but I’d rather not. I was actually unsure about this post, because I did go a little ranty and vulnerable, and I do question the need to put this out on such a platform for a few people to see. What can be gained from it? Does it help me get back at unfair treatment? No. Does it make me feel better? No. Just angry and hurt, as before. But, it opened a discussion, and maybe that is a good thing. Though I’m pretty, cynically confident, that such people will never go away or change!

      1. Thank you, my birthday was about two weeks ago but I greatly appreciate that! I just got back from a short trip to Ireland for a 100th birthday party and had a fabulous time. I think discussion is always helpful and I think it truly the best thing about your particular blog. You write very engaging posts that even though they might be gleaned from the personal, feel like you have a sense of the larger picture. Its a rare talent! And no, giggling and smiling and being happy go lucky don’t make you stupid at all! To them that caused it I raise a certain finger in the air in their general direction!

      2. A 100th birthday party? You shall have to explain that to me.

        Thank you for your generous observation. I do try to write to spark discussion, and I do try to write about the bigger picture (hence ‘opinion’ in the true sense of the word) and I never was interested in sharing any personality, at least initially. I find I’m not always successful, as there are many posts which don’t have much commentary (though that might be more of a case of finding your audience!) and they feel incomplete. Earlier this week, I posted one on doing Philosophy that should, you’d think, encourage comments. But, that didn’t happen, though some Philosophy blogs did give it a shout-out. My first priority is making a connection, and so that one is still an uneven occurrence. Though you, as always, are generous in your commenting!

      3. I’ll send you some photos on Twitter. It was just a wonderful time! I’ll have to double back on your Philosophy post, I missed that one in my travels. I understand about things being uneven…it happens to me too, but all you can do is keep writing. Some day it will all balance out I’m sure!

      4. I know, I should work more towards finding readers by promoting, but I still haven’t made the effort to learn how. I’d love it if you read my post on Physical Beauty. It had a good response, and is semi-funny, something I wish I could do all the time!

  3. I find myself over-cynical. I am cynical of the most silly, trivial things. Sadly, I can be the most cynical when I hear of another’s happiness or success. It’s a flaw I am working on.

    From other people I tend to either agree, or brush it off. It’s never bothered me too much when directed at me (often because it’s an opinion I already hold)

    1. Ah, that is interesting! I do get envious of people’s success, but I’ve read it’s but natural in such a competitive world, and can even act as a motivator. And if external cynicism doesn’t bother you, then you surely have one less (huge) thing to worry about! Thank you for reading!

  4. I handle cynicism by putting on my headphones and listening to truly awful (yet really good to me at least) music from the ’90s. 😀 Always makes me feel better!

    1. Music can repair most things! I find it harder to cope as I get older, and nowadays I can even have The Beatles playing in the background, without solving the issue. But, time can be a healer too, though it has taken me a couple of days to get back to normal!

      Do you mind sharing these “truly awful” artists? Chances are, I like them!

      1. You will probably laugh at some of the artists I used to listen to… And still do listen to.
        When I was a kid, it was all boy bands: NSYNC, Hanson, Backstreet Boys. I was a HUGE Backstreet Boys fan. I had posters of them all over my room. Ha ha! I think the ’90s also produced a lot of those cringey one hit wonders. Have you ever heard of “Blue” by Eiffel 65? It’s the most ridiculous song ever, yet I sing along to it every time I hear it on the radio!
        But Backstreet Boys remains my guilty pleasure music 😀

      2. Okay, and will the cringing decrease if I admit to having a rather large BSB poster on the wall next to my bed when I was in school? I also had a Boyzone poster, among other celebs. Used to be a huge boyband fan myself – BSB, NSync, Westlife etc. Btw, did you nurture something for Nick Carter, by any chance? Because I did, and so did probably any young girl at that time! I don’t listen to music from that period much anymore and the honest reason is this – I cry like a baby remembering the happy times. BSB had great songs, consistently. Both the fun, dancey stuff, and something like “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely”. As did NSync. I still sing “Tearing Up My Heart” in the shower and remember all the moves! Hanson I only knew “Mmmbop” and one called “Penny and Me” which was a really good song, and not boybandish. Hate to sound like an oldie, but those boybands were so much better than what we have today!

        Did you know that the same guy who used to write songs for BSB, NSync, Britney AND Avril, still writes for Katy Perry and Taylor Swift? He’s the most valuable songwriter after Lennon-McCartney!

        Don’t remember “Blue” by Eiffel 65, though I did used to listen to the actual band Blue. My 90s jam nowadays is a compilation I have of Mariah Carey. “We belong together” is one of the best songs ever!

      3. Spent the evening watching BSB videos and doing chores listening to a BSB playlist on youtube. What Pandora’s Box have you made me open, Tamara? I’m surprised I remember most of the lines, and even the moves! Thank you for making me feel like a thirteen year old again!

      4. I used to know the entire dance to “Backstreet’s Back.” Ha ha! Aw, the good old days…

      5. Sorry for being so late in replying! I’ve been superbusy and equally tired. That’s one of the best videos ever, and I’m sure would be a hit again if it were re-released today!

  5. I can’t really comment because I’m a rather cynical person myself. I do want to mention, though, that not all cynical people are rude and think they are better than everyone else. I was raised to be polite and kind towards people and to treat them with the proper respect due. If you are my elder, a superior, or someone I am unfamiliar with you are responded to with smiles and “ma’am” and “sir”. If you are near me as we go somewhere I will hold the door for you. If we are walking through a parking lot or a store and we make eye contact, I will smile at you and maybe say hi.

    However, am I an optimistic and cheerful person who tires to look on the sunny side of life? No, not really. More often than not my optimism is rewarded with disappointment and hurt feelings – probably where cynicism came from.

    Well, I said I can’t comment and here I’ve written a book, sorry lol – I enjoyed the read though, thanks for putting up with my babbling!

    1. No, I completely understand and thank you for bringing this up! I did conflate the two – cynicism and rudeness – in the post, somewhat erroneously. But, this was specific to this incident, because cynicism was being imposed on me, the everyday, adult, stagnating kind and not the philosophical “what is the true condition of life?” kind. I am naturally optimistic and enthusiastic, but that does not mean I dot my i’s with hearts or put up inspirational quotes on my wall. I can get quite miserable! But, I was ridiculed with contempt for not seeing the world as they do, and not behaving as they do. A person can be cynical, but they can also keep it to themselves, without imposing on someone else.

      What I suffer from is the presumption that because I am chatty and cheerful, nothing bad must have happened to me. I’ve had anxiety issues all my life, but there are a number of people who don’t even know about it! I put up with their condescension because I’d rather protect myself and the people close to me, than release the waterworks on people who don’t actually care!

      Thank you very much for reading!

      1. That makes complete sense, it’s so wrong and very hurtful to presume things about people or to criticize them for their personality. I know that I can be very judgey sometimes but I try to keep it to myself – and I try my best to adhere to the fact that everyone has a right to live their life the way they want to as long as they’re not hurting themselves or others. We never know what another person has gone through or is going through and should be mindful of that – given that we wouldn’t want to be treated that way either

      2. Exactly! Well said! Some people are just by nature more cheerful. They’re not trying to compensate for something through it. It’s just like a personality setpoint.

      3. I can definitely understand. I often have the opposite problem. By way of nature, when I’m not smiling I look very serious or even mad, and people assume I’m cranky, mean, or unapproachable. My former boss used to lecture me all the time telling me I was unapproachable and angry all the time, when I wasnt. I got fed up one day and yelled at her. I can’t help the way my face is, afterall lol

      4. Oh God, that does sound scary! Would you call yourself an introvert? My resting face is pretty morose, and more that one person has called me intimidating when I am quiet. I certainly don’t do that intentionally. I think I’m an ambivert – introvert some of the time, extrovert the rest. That certainly can create problems, because sometimes I don’t feel sociable, and people think I’m unapproachable!

      5. Oh I am definitely an introvert. I can’t stand being in big crowds and I absolutely need a lot of alone time to recharge – especially working in HR and having to deal with people a lot

  6. I loved this post. Your enthusiasm and openness are wonderful, valuable, and beautiful. As is your hunger for answers and dialogue about some of the questions that really matter. Change, and critical thinking can be good and needed sometimes. But holding on to the core of who we are, especially in the face of cruelty, misunderstanding, despair, pain, and just all the craziness of our messed up world is something like a heroic mission in this day and age. I am so cheering you on…picturing you twirling around in a Cinderella dress with little birdies twittering around your head as you tell the disbelievers to go F*** themselves!

    1. Oh wow, I NEVER imagined myself as Cinderella, even as a child! I’d be too worried about my shoes! Thank you for your generous comment. You don’t know how much it helps me remind myself what is important. You are absolutely right, it is so hard to hold on to what makes you ‘you’. What used to come naturally before but lies dormant now, even dead. Whatever little I know about your life, I’d say you had a lot of courage to have made the changes you made to live a satisfactory, meaningful, happy life. My life right now is very different from where I’d like it to be, but I’m trying to work from the inside out. Circumstances change, but I can still try and do what is important to me. Again, thank you very much for your kind words. They really mean a lot, after the week I had!

      1. Ok, well maybe you can be the pre-ball gown Cinderella, the barefoot version.. she was always my favorite anyway!:)
        I’m so glad to hear that my words were helpful. Yes, there’s always a price to be paid for whatever transformative changes we can create in our lives, (just like Rumplestiltkin says, “magic always has a price”) but being true to ourselves is always worth whatever pain or sacrifices our truth demands.

        Yes, “working from the inside out”– yay!
        And also, even though you say that your Self and Expression don’t converge very much, what about this heart-full blog you’ve created? Seems to me it’s a pretty clear convergence, but correct me if I’m wrong…

        (I’m really confused about how external links work when I’m not on my own blog, but if you’re curious to learn more about my strange life, look up “Eating Nettles, Crossing Rivers: Loba’s 20 years in Paradise”… I now belong to the “I’ve changed my name more than once” club, so I hope that’s not too confusing, but I am indeed the same person on the Enchanted Canyon Kitchen blog named Elka!)

      2. Hi Elka, please forgive me for being so late in replying! I’ve been so busy and so tired. I prefer pre-ball Cinderella too, always identify more with the underdog! By lack of convergence, I meant that how I feel inside doesn’t translate into my behaviour around people. It’s truer with writing, but there aren’t many people I personally know who read what I write. I am very chatty, but not assertive at all. I wish I was, but I just bottle it up.

        I will definitely be dropping by your blog soon. I enjoyed it the last time I did!

  7. Thanks so much for the sweet reply, Amrita, and for explaining more about the convergence thing. It’s too bad (or maybe not? you tell me?) that most of the people you know personally don’t read your writings, they’re missing out!

    Although, I have to say, sometimes it’s nice to express opinions and just sillinesses without feeling the potential scrutiny of certain kinds of audiences….if you know what I mean!

    so glad you enjoyed visiting me at mine!
    wishing you a happy day, and hopefully some more rest!

    1. Thank you, Elka! I would have appreciated it if certain people read what I wrote right when I started here and was getting a good readership. Now, I keep the two worlds separate, because, ultimately, it’s worked out better that way. If people are interested, I’ve to remind them not to share any personal information in the comments. Sometimes, people in my life do inspire blog posts, but I keep their identity private and write about things in such a way that they might not even know they were the inspiration. It would be nice to get positive, thoughtful feedback from people I love, but that wouldn’t be fair! I would have to be open to anything negative too, and I don’t want it from them!

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