I have found myself avoiding people that are not full of optimism and happiness. I am sure they avoid me as well. I just don’t want to give any of my precious time to listen to people drone on about how bad things are and make something tiny into a problem that needs the UN’s attention. It may be selfish, but there it is, I said it and I mean it. I think you know the kind of people I am talking about, you ask them how they are today and here is what you get, “I’m fine, I guess, (ho hum, big sigh) my mom called to say my uncle has a cold and we are all so worried. You know how deadly colds can be to people in their fifties.” Notice you never get a, “how are you today?” in return. Heaven forbid you may have something good to say and it may be contagious.
For years I worked with a woman that was able to make everything into a tragedy. I would cringe as she came towards my desk, I had learned never to ask how she was, what was up or any question that might prompt a response. It didn’t matter. She would slowly walk up, prolonging the anxiety I had of what she was about to say, knowing there was no escape. I would look around to make eye contact with anyone that might be able to save me. No takers they had run as soon as they saw her coming and I am trapped behind my desk. I had a total appreciation for the analogy fish being shot in a barrel. Knowing I am trapped I just smile and wait, “I just got a call from my mom and the blister on her foot won’t pop, we’re worried we might have to have it amputated. Then as I am talking to her my son got a pimple, well we think it is a pimple, but we are taking him for an MRI this afternoon to be sure it’s not cancer. So I need this afternoon off to take him to that appointment.” Fine, if it will get her to stop talking and leave – APPROVED! But it doesn’t stop there. “Well you know how my husband thinks his boss is out to get him, well we found out from Ted the Janitor he is, so I might need tomorrow off to go meet with an attorney.” I am ok with that, take the whole week off, I will pay it out of my own salary if you promise to leave right now.
I can actually feel the tension in my shoulders as I recount that conversation. These are the individuals that I like to refer to as Debbie Downers. Nothing positive will come from them and they can trump anything positive you say and ruin it for you. I might say, “I just got a promotion at work, I have been waiting for this job to open up for 2 years, I am so excited”. Debbie responds, “Oh boy, you know what a promotion means. You work more hours and you never get appreciated. You wind up eating lunch at your desk everyday while people around you go out for steak. Well, I hope it works out for you, but don’t count on it.” I think I would rather have a car with chains on the tires run over my foot than listen to that crap! I can actually feel the positive energy draining out of my body.
My husband has come up with a brilliant description for these individuals, he refers to them as Eeyore. The first time he said it I had to think for a moment and then I burst into fits of laughter. When you google Eeyore, the following words pop up; dismally gloomy, pessimistic, depressed and anhedonic. I have to be honest, I had no idea what anhedonic meant so I had to google that as well. I went to business school and we didn’t get to learn and use words with more than three syllables.
So next time you see me, do me a favor and put a smile on your face and don’t try to one up my positivity with your selfish gloom. Otherwise you may just hear me refer to you at the next party or happy hour as DD, Eeyore or anhedonic.