October 24, 2015
Stick Up For Something
Someone once told me that I had an intense personality.
If you know me at all, you would either think 1. that is crazy, or 2. yes Eva, you are intense.
At first I was taken aback by this statement. I tried dissecting it in every sense of the word “intense.” I didn’t know if I should be offended by the statement, or blessed by it. What did that mean? Why did someone say that about me?
When I talk about people who are “intense,” I usually elude to the idea of “task-oriented” or “extremely driven” people. At one point in time, these people scared me in most ways. They frightened me with their over-attention to detail and their lack of social skills. What on earth could be so important that you totally disregard friendships, relational times, or spontaneous plans? What fun is that?
However, as I talked with more and more people, I began to realize the spectrum of the word and how accurate of a descriptor that word “intense” actually is for me. Although it carries lots of baggage in my mind, that word seems to fit, maybe a little snug, but well.
Now I see the word a bit differently. And I see the people that I label as “intense” a bit differently as well. One of the best ways I can describe us “intense” people would have to be: someone who is consumed with an idea. In other words “passionate.”
“Passionate” is a word that my professors used to hate when we used in class. They thought of the word as limiting. “How can you rate someone’s passion?” they would say. “How can you determine if someone is passionate?” Basically it was a terrible word to use in a learning outcome.
However, there are very few words that I think capture me better.
If you have heard me talk about anything that I believe in, you would probably say the same.
I am ridiculously passionate about anything that I think is a good idea. I like ideas that can transform the world.
Those places in my heart, the “intense” places, are not ones I share with everyone. For instance, few people know that I am a pacifist. I do not believe in military force, just war, or guns for protection. I love our veterans, but it is hard for me to watch as people are trained to kill one another as defense and for the safety of our country. I think violence will always perpetuate violence. There must be a better way. And I know, I know, I have just offended half of you.
This is one of the reasons that I keep a lot of my “passions” to myself. They frighten people. They offend people. They help keep me in the box that people mark as “intense” or “hater.” I don’t know why we do this to each other, but it seems like when we are scared of something, frightened by someone and their thoughts that are different than ours, we keep them at a distance. We label them and walk away, thinking that we would be better off not engaging.
I do this sometimes, I am not going to lie. It is not something I am proud of, but sometimes, I just don’t want to take the time to listen and really understand your opinion or position on something. It is terrible. I don’t want to be like that anymore.
One of the other things I am passionate about, especially since marrying my hunk of a husband, is taking the time to understand. What’s scary about this to most is that people think that listening will lead to either 1. the loss of your own beliefs or 2. disagreement or conflict. I have seen people get angry time and time again at each other without anyone being brave enough to understand what the other is saying. It takes a bravery and security in yourself and your thought to listen to another. When people get heated, angry, loud, or just plain mean I realize one main thing about the person: they are scared. They are scared that the friendship will be lost, their opinion won’t be “right,” the other person won’t believe them, and most importantly, they won’t be heard. What a great disservice we do to people when we choose not to listen to them and understand what they are saying. I’ll just add here for the people that “know what someone is trying to say but don’t agree,” you can never truly understand someone else and their opinion. Everyone, no matter if you grew up in the same household, city, or even country, has the exact same experience as you. The ways that we simply view the world, however similar, are ALL different. So listening & seeking to understand are your best bet at really understanding what someone is trying to say. And remember, always feel free to ask “is this what you are trying to say?” More times than not, it won’t be and you’ll then have another opportunity to listen. Horray!
So back to “intensity.” I recently drew a picture of a cactus and on the cactus, I felt like I was supposed to write “Stick up For Something.” I didn’t know why or who I was drawing the picture for, but now I feel like this picture was not only for me, but for you.
You see, it is really easy to go through your days without doing anything super significant, and that is okay, but sometimes, it is time to be passionate. Sometimes, it is the time to be “intense.” It is time to not be afraid of your inner desires, and your inner inklings. It is time to be passionate about certain things.
So whatever it is, equality, recycling, music, tax returns, political parties, women’s rights, ending violence, eliminating poverty, cultural competency or even learning, be passionate about that! Feel the inside of you jump out and come alive. Take time to feed your passion every day. Listen to the voice inside of you that tells you something is worth living for.
As others step out with their passions, let us foster a place of understanding, of seeking to listen and know the depths of the others’ hearts. Let us be intense, not for intensity’s sake, but to make the world a place worth living in. We have the power and ability to create, to see, and to give ourselves to the world around us. What a beautiful thing it is to be alive. What a beautiful thing it is to be “intense.” Let us step out of fear and into the love that is all around us.