By Robin Miner-Swartz

Enthusiasm is underrated. People who don’t – or can’t, or refuse to – get excited about things frustrate me. How can you go through life feeling ho-hum and blasé about the world around you all the time?

I realized not too long ago that I am not my job. Yes, that sounds dumb when I read it, too. But my whole pitch about myself, in the 18 years I was a journalist, was that I knew when I was 11 what I wanted to be when I grew up. It’s a fact I was so proud of that I lead with it in any conversation relating to newspapers. I felt like because I “knew” this at such a young age, I’d somehow beaten the system and found a shortcut to career satisfaction at the ripe old age of 11.

Now I recognize what it is about my personality that led me to label myself as one thing and one thing only: I want to be done first. In school, I was always the first one to hand in a test, not because I was such a genius that I powered through the exam with ease, but because I wanted to “win” something that wasn’t the least bit winnable. So when I hit upon a career fit at 11, I figured I’d beaten everyone else and could just plow ahead to the next chapter.

I never bothered to stop and think about who I was. I was only concerned with what I was. Or thought I was.

Fast forward a couple of decades, and didn’t like my job anymore. Crap. Now what? This was supposed to be my life … at least until retirement.

Giving myself permission to step back and reassess my working self was a scary-yet-invigorating process.

Which brings me back to enthusiasm. I discovered, at my core, I’m an endlessly enthusiastic person. I am very much a glass-half-full, things-will-work-out thinker. I love words. I’m energized by smart people. Compassion and good news make me cry. I’m loyal, I’m driven, and I’m occasionally a little wound up.

In short, I’m a cheerleader.

Before I began to explore who I was, I was convinced it was impossible to describe yourself in any other way than by what you did for a living. Describing yourself as you relate to the people in your immediate family was probably a close second. But who you are? No, that didn’t make sense.

Each day now, I marvel at the comfort of knowing who I am, in the fullest sense of the phrase. I’m excited to see how I fit into the world around me – and how it fits with me. I’m endlessly enthusiastic. I even told someone the other day that I’m passionate about passion.

Yes, I realize how dorky this can sound. But I also realize that I don’t care. I’d prefer to surround myself with people who are dedicated to making the world a better place – in big and little ways – and I don’t have time for chronic complainers.

I’m lucky. I have a life I love with a partner I’ve waited my whole life for. I live in a community that excites me and impresses me every day. Even though I’ve lived in greater Lansing for my entire life, I continue to meet new people doing amazing, selfless things to help make our region better.

How could I not be enthusiastic? How can you not be? Join me, won’t you?

Robin Miner-Swartz is passionate about effecting social change through social and traditional media. After 18 years holding nearly every job in the features department at the Lansing State Journal, from part-time copy editor to food critic to features editor, she hopped the fence into the wonderful world of nonprofit communications. Robin is happily ensconced as the vice president of communications for the Capital Region Community Foundation, where all the news is good news. The Community Foundation annually grants more than $3 million to make our region a better place for everyone. For a #lovelansing cheerleader like Robin, it’s an ideal fit.

Editor’s Note: Dave Isbell thinks Robin is one of the most incredible people he has ever met! In fact, if she would let him, Dave would start a Robin fan club just so he could be President of it and then get to stamp her autograph on 8 x 10 glossy black and white photos to mail to other fans.

(This post was originally posted on 07/08/2011.)

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Michigan State University.


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