Confusiasm is the state of launching into something when you have no idea what you’re doing, but you’re excited and ready to try anyway. It’s a state that can only be reached through a total commitment of purpose. There is no way to feel this emotion by thinking about it, reading about it, or watching someone else do it. It’s not knowledge and it’s not observation. It’s the difference between reading a romance novel and leaning over to kiss your crush for the first time. It’s the difference between buying a cookbook and tasting the first forkful.
I’d say it’s the difference between knowing that labor will hurt, and actually giving birth, but I’ve never been pregnant so I’ll leave that to the experts.
I suspect there’s some confusiasm involved in SCUBA diving, skydiving, or downhill skiing, but I’m too afraid to find out.
What I am doing with confusiasm is writing a novel and learning public speaking. I did it earlier in the year when we applied the wing-it method to our trip to Spain. I did it five years ago when I had the startling desire to start running and couldn’t make it around the block without seeing spots.
Most people arrive at confusiasm when they bring home an exciting new piece of electronics. Hopefully that’s not the only time we feel it!
We overthink things. When I first decided I wanted to be a life coach, I figured I should wait at least ten years, because I figured I needed to be a millionaire bodybuilder with a full fashion makeover first. Seriously not kidding. “IT WORKED FOR ME!” It turns out that all I had to do was to pass an exam (with a 58% acceptance rate, granted) and talk with one person at a time. What’s the best way to coach this person? Only one way to find out, and that’s to start by listening. The question is whether I can sustain the feeling of breathless anticipation and make it known with every interaction.
We underthink things. I didn’t go back to school until I was 24 because I assumed I couldn’t afford it and I had no idea what to do. It hadn’t happened automatically so it must not be for the likes of me. I passed the school where I spent my freshman year hundreds of times. It had a huge campus map outside. I could easily have wandered into the admissions office and asked, “How do I become a college student?” It would have saved me thousands of dollars, because the same education continued to get increasingly more expensive with every year I waited. It would have earned me tens of thousands of dollars, because I was getting precisely nowhere on my own without the degree. I let doing the daily get away with me.
I could have had a PhD by the time I finally got my bachelor’s degree. That’s okay, though, because I still don’t have one now and over 40% of people who start a doctoral program don’t finish. On the list of things I have terminally procrastinated, at least “defend my thesis” isn’t on there. Maybe I’ll go back when I’m 70 so I have something to do.
If there’s one thing that must be done in the spirit of confusiasm, it’s aging. I make a lot of decisions by imagining the worst possible outcome and steering away from that. Often I set out to do the exact opposite. Sometimes I imagine what a particular negative role model would do. “Okay, obviously don’t do that.” I know I don’t want to be the kind of elderly person who sits in a chair complaining, watching TV all day, thinking and talking about nothing but health problems, and looking back at the only life I had to live with bitterness, grudges, and regret. What’s the opposite of that? Being strong, being able to sit on the floor and get up again, taking care of my health as proactively as the sheer cutting edge of nutrition and medical science can teach, forgiving effusively, doing magnificently fascinating things, and being a world-class listener. What does that even look like? Who else is doing it? Who’s going to be my role model? I don’t know yet, but it seems like a pretty good game to try to find out. Confusiastically.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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