Young guys. Handsome, too. Successful in work and life, with every reason to be proud of and satisfied with their journey on this earth so far.
One, when you ask how his day was, invariably will respond with a sigh.
“Oh, y’know.” Or sometimes, [sigh] “Long.” Does he want me to be impressed at the hours he puts in at work? Or to follow up on this less-than-enthusiastic reply and ask why it was just “y’know?” I’m not sure, but I usually don’t.
The other, when you ask, will respond without exception, “Totally excellent.”
He’s not a surfer, not west coast-born or bred. But his response is pure, contented beach bum.
I found out one day that this second man got it from his father. In providing the consistently positive exclamation over the years, the father passed both the phrase and the enthusiastic sentiment behind it on to all of his sons. Not by accident, by indoctrination.
Because you wouldn’t identify these brothers as such by their appearance – their heights and sizes are of the “Goldilocks” dimensions – but they’re marked as kin by their uniform answer to the seemingly banal question, “How was your day?”
This man and all his brothers’ “Totally excellent” response is as contagious as their passion for life. Nothing they do makes them “Oof, so busy;” it makes them “Oh man, so great. Let me tell you about it…”
I used to work with Mr. “Oh, Y’know..” when I was still in advertising, a career he remains in today. He’s good at his job, and has since moved on from the sweatshop we worked in together to an agency with better work-life balance; ie, he leaves at a decent hour every day, while the work (pharmaceutical advertising) is maybe…less-than riveting.
Whenever I talk to him, his slightly downtrodden “meh” vibe inevitably launches me into wondering why, if he doesn’t seem to enjoy his job, he doesn’t simply talk about other stuff.
Because of course, one’s work isn’t always what gets his or her engines revving – and for a lot of people, I know a job is just a job…as opposed to a passion-filled career. And I think that’s fine. A lot of people’s lives happen not between nine and five, but between five and nine, as it were. So why not find something you are excited about and tell me about that? There has to be a bright spot of your day that would make for a better answer.
Because all things being equal, my two friends should have the same reply to the “How was your day?” question, right? My friend who thinks life is “totally excellent” and the other who thinks it is “meh” both live in an exciting city with lots to do, have a stable network of friends and family who love them, and make enough money to be comfortable. So why do their takes on the day differ so dramatically?
Now, does that mean that what you’re passionate about – your work, or the marathon you’re training for, or your new baby, or puppy – is what I want to hear about for the next ten minutes, without you asking about me at any point? No. And I think sometimes people go too far the other way in assuming that other people want to hear all about what they’re excited about. But too much enthusiasm for your life is certainly preferable to the opposite.
At least, I know who I want to talk to, that’s for sure.