The Trouble With Faking Enthusiasm... A Tale of Ugly Sweaters


Ever since I was a small child, I have had a great deal of difficulty "faking enthusiasm."

It seems like a thing that "comes naturally" to a lot of people, and even my mother insisted that the ability to feign enthusiasm was part of "good breeding."


Alas, I have always been a bit of a heretic, on that particular front.

Which — of course — has only succeeded in making me a bit of a social pariah, from time to time.

At times, I ponder whether it all stems from the particularly awful pastel sweaters a friend of my mother's insisted on knitting for me for both birthdays and Christmas. It was a double-whammy: Not only did I hate "soft packages" (clothing) as gifts on a general level, the contents of these particular packages added insult to injury.

My mother always came across as if she thought these sweaters were actually nice; and she insisted that I wear them regularly, even when "Aunt M" wasn't around. I felt more or less like a baby chick that had been dipped in pastel green or pastel blue dye.

How on Earth could anyone make a big show of being enthusiastic over such atrocities?


Of course, I also seriously sucked in Drama class...

As an adult, my lack of fake enthusiasm mostly manifested with respect to a lot of things the majority of the world thinks of as being "fun." And, for the most part, that I loathe having to take part in.

Of course, I have learned to not just stand there and be an abrasive jerk about it... so rather than feign enthusiasm about the actual thing in question, I muster up some genuine enthusiasm about how happy the person making the suggestion seems to be... thereby diverting from having to put my personal opinion into the mix, and immediately be labelled as a buzzkill.

"Is it so difficult for you to just be a LITTLE bit enthusiastic about this?"

What is it that makes it difficult for some people — like myself — to feign enthusiasm?


Well, let's just start with the fact that I know perfectly well that it's fake! And then combine that with a personality and value set that places the highest value on authenticity... I have a fairly strong dislike of "fake people."

There's a fair bit of ambivalence surrounding the whole "fake it till you make it" truism, and its deeper psychological impact. Positive thinking notwithstanding, our bodies and minds are pretty smart, and they know when we are saying things we don't actually feel or believe. Which is also why things like "saying affirmations" only work to the degree that they overlap with our experiential realm of reality.

In other words, there's a big difference between standing in front of the mirror affirming that you can improve your personal 10K run time to a personal best, and standing in front of the mirror affirming that you will finish the Boston Marathon in two months from now, and you've not even started training.


And getting back to "ugly sweaters," it's one thing to feign enthusiasm for something that's "not exactly your style" and something (however well-meaning) that no reasonable person would be caught dead in, in public.

And so it also is with feigning excitement over being invited to do something you've repeatedly confirmed that you cannot stand having anything to do with.

Human behavior and expectations are a truly confusing quagmire, sometimes!

Thanks for reading, and have a great remainder of your week!

How about YOU? Are you good at feigning enthusiasm or excitement on command? Does it come easy to you? Or do you dislike the practice? Do you think it is "necessary" in social contexts? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!


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Created at 20220502 22:56 PDT



I'll trade ya... a box of multi-colored afghan blankets, circa late 60's early 70's, for your sweaters.

Remember, whilst donning the sweaters, one must also up the trauma via a fully gelled, 'Dippity Do', hair style to emulate the permanently drowned rat look.

Back in the day, I easily could have played the part of 'Waldo' in Van Halen's 'Hot For Teacher' video.

And is it any surprise why now, I sport the Boris Johnson 'do.

Always a excellent read denmarkguy!