Discover more from Snake Dog Journal
EASY DOES IT
Beware those who excite too easily
For me, easy comes easily enough.
Its alternative, on the other hand, has never been my strong suit.
I was deemed “insouciant” by my favorite high school English teacher. And while my father insisted I attend Dale Carnegie training before I set off into the workforce, winning friends and influencing people always seemed a little gauche to me. I find myself mostly incapacitated when it’s time to feign interest in anything I don’t care about. I have a tendency to mumble when I’m not enraged. And generally speaking, I’m less eye glint and more eye roll. For most of my adult life, the only thing I ever got really excited about was bottled, pilled, or powdered.
But, man, is there a lot of unwarranted excitement out there right now. I mean, this is just one example, but so many people are excited to “e-meet” me, it’s crazy.
It’s my belief that it’s better not to be too excited about anything. Being too excited about things can find you forking over $250,000 to get into a deep-sea submersible operated with a jailbroken PlayStation controller.
I don’t trust people who wear too much excitement on their sleeves. Have you ever encountered an overtly and overly optimistic person who didn’t later prove themselves to be either a) a liar b) an insufferable Peter Pan syndrome type c) a narcissist or d) a sociopath? Me neither.
In my experience, grumpy and “over it,” you can trust. Those who are too excited to see you probably have big plans to manipulate you.
It’s not that I think there’s nothing worth getting excited about. Far from it. Healthy stuff, too. People get real excited about sobriety. A couple months in, riding that pink cloud of good sleep and stable blood sugar levels, they want everybody to feel like this. That’s amazing. But some annoyingly proselytize to family and friends. I tried that once. Shortly before going back out for another year-plus run. I kept my lips sealed the second time around. STFU is a good motto for the newly sober.
But that’s not what the culture and the content platforms demand. Those who have an established audience for doing something important like acting or modeling or having rich parents must bombard their millions of followers with their play-by-play accounts of their “journeys,” their tepid takes leaping past those of any highly-trained expert (or literally anyone else with actual long-term sobriety) who doesn’t have that vaunted blue checkmark on Instagram.
Good Morning America celebrated Bella Hadid’s “sober anniversary” after the model and Kin Euphorics founder reached six months of sobriety. I mean, really good for her, getting that first six months can be tough. But I’m still smfh at that math, the weight of years seemingly diluted to months. And while that level of public gaze is great for Sobriety Inc. at large, I’m not convinced it’s so great for someone in early sobriety. At least we’re celebrating now. (Think of the tabloid shame show treatment poor Britney got when she checked into rehab. Unconscionable in retrospect).
Expertise takes time. But time is not something the current culture affords us a lot of. News cycles. Fashion trends. The renaissance lasted 300 years. The 90s lasted ten. In the 21st century, entire epochs seem to unfold in two years. The zeitgeist moves fast, faster, and increasingly so. And in trying to keep up, excitement can cloud our vision.
Excitement can masquerade as experience. Excitement can draw people in. But it can’t give you the power to transmit what you haven’t got.
There’s a big difference between practicum and preach.
Jonah Hill recently found that out the hard way, getting dragged for weaponizing the language of therapy in messages to an ex-girlfriend.
This is a dude who was so excited about his therapy experience that he was compelled to make a movie about his therapist. He used his massive platform to hand a megaphone to someone who earned it with decades of education, research, and practical experience. (For a little perspective: Phil Stutz, the therapist documented, was a therapist for over 30 years before publishing his first book about it). I believe Hill really helped a lot of people with his film. But that’s not gonna stop the venerable journalistic institution that is BuzzFeed News from pillorying him for using language in private conversations that he probably didn’t really understand. The excitement was there. The experience wasn’t.
And while I found his performance as Donnie in Gus van Sant’s Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far On Foot (the best film I’ve ever seen about sobriety) deeply moving, playing a character that’s deep doesn’t make you deep. Deep is a lot of work.
And real life is hard. Trying to move through it avoiding pain at all costs can make you sound like a controlling sociopath. Being a controlling sociopath can also do that. I’ll leave that there.
On some level, though, even my insouciant ass can relate to getting caught up in the excitement around mental health transformation. I am the one with the sobriety newsletter, am I not? I’ve been enthused about things I reflexively wanted others to get into—metaphysical crystals (made an app), breathwork meditation (wrote a book). I’m still excited about those things, of course. But I’m definitely not as excited as I was when I was first excited about them.
That’s because the wiser I get about things, the less exciting I find them. Sobriety carries more weight in my life right now than it ever has. Gravity is a force. Excitement is a flourish.
Text by Andrew Smart
Like Snake Dog Journal? Please subscribe.