Dull idea

Excitement can be crushed in seconds. 

Have you ever had someone express a new endeavor or way of thinking to you and your response be an unnecessary critique? Something like this:

Person A: I’m thinking of starting a garden. I’ve always enjoyed helping out with them and think that my own would provide me a positive outlet, a new hobby.

Person B: Sounds like a lot of work. Gardens are fickle. 

I’ve certainly done it before, thankfully I’ve finally figured out why. 

‘Titled (Art as Idea as Idea) [idea] by Joseph Kosuth’

When I was twenty three or so, I woke up after a late night of hanging out with my friends. We had gone out downtown, had a bunch of drinks and ate late night food. 

I woke up feeling awful. 

Seeking a change, something that might improve future nights out – I told some of my friends that I was going to stop drinking hard liquor. The responses to my idea varied drastically – some chuckled and others just nodded their heads. One even said something to the tune of “I’ll believe it when I see it.” 

I remember being so upset. Here I was with an idea for self-improvement and even some of my own friends didn’t believe in me. For many years I have been hurt by this, but as I’ve grown older and wiser I better understand their responses. 

So often we hear people around us or see people online talking about making a change and often times those changes never come. Often times our pessimism is based in facts. 

I had been regularly drinking with my friends for a few years at the point when I started talking about cutting back, they didn’t exactly have reason to believe I was actually going to do it. Why would they? Recent evidence pointed to anything but that. 

Turns out that they were right. This conversation was about two years before I actually stopped. I’ve already written in the post On Drinking about how people reacted when I told them I was quitting drinking completely – it was a spectrum from disregard and disbelief to total support.

Now I don’t blame anyone for their actions or hold resentment because I’ve taken ownership of my own. If their reactions were more positive, could this change have happened earlier? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe it was just a matter of not understanding the whole situation or maybe I never provided the real reasoning behind my idea. Looking back, I never shared with them how desperately I wanted this change. How much I wanted a different life – one filled with confidence and fun that didn’t involve drinking. Part of the problem was I didn’t think this life existed. I thought everyone’s social lives revolved around drinking and drinking a lot.

Regardless, life isn’t about talking about change, it’s showing the change. People shouldn’t have to take my word for things or be convinced, they should plainly see the efforts and intentionality. It needs to come from me and it is not their responsibility.

All this being said, I know I do have the power to brighten or support ideas shared with me. So why does this dulling or disbelieving of ideas happen, and why have I done this to others up until my recent realization? Well, for me my reactions are often most negative when someone is discussing a change I haven’t been able to get myself to do. For you, it might be a different reason, the reasoning behind being negative can be complex and can also involve mental health. Often times it is easy to bring others down when I’m going through tough times – maybe you feel the same way. 

I’ve been the person who laughed off or gave a snarky response to someone saying they were going to make a change. Just thinking of doing this eats at me, and it should. 

Finally, there is a big difference between this negative response and one that is filled with constructive criticism, suggestions, and care. I’m not advocating for simply agreeing with every idea that is shared. I do know that being honest and sharing my opinion can be helpful – often someone who speaks helpful truth can be rare. Having people who proceed like this in my life has certainly helped me grow. 

So what am I saying? I’m saying excitement can be crushed in seconds, it can also be created. 

I need to let ideas grow.

Starting your own garden? So cool. That sounds like a bright idea to me!

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