I just need to say this: There is no unacceptable amount of exclamation marks in an email. Or a FaceBook post. Or a tweet.
This is not a subtweet. It's a note to me from me.
Put as many as you want.
A whole bunch in a row.
Or just sneak one in at the end.
Conventions be damned…you do you.
Why even care? This week I overheard two students talking:
“Don’t overthink this.”
“But that’s what I do.”
Kids today are so much smarter than I was. The idea of overthinking something didn’t even enter my vernacular until a few years ago. Being able to recognize it in yourself? Accepting it as part of how you see the world and acknowledge that’s how you interact with it? Sooooo much smarter than I was.
The exclamation mark is a perfect example. I love the exclamation mark. Love it!
It’s like a thrilling amusement park ride hurtling into the station, the brief second of stillness before the unceremonious releasing of the air brakes.
Like getting to the last page of a book and having your breath taken away by the ending.
Like a slammed door.
A sudden epiphany.
A red light.
But use too many? Juvenile.
None at all? Stern.
I have no doubt that there are people who can relate to this, but others who are flabbergasted that someone would spend any amount of emotional energy even considering a punctuation mark.
In the end, I suppose it’s not really about an exclamation mark at all, but our constant maneuvering to balance the expectations of others with an authenticity of self. A recent webinar on female leadership by Amy Korver and Amy Orth had me thinking about that. (Linked video at the bottom of this.)
E. E. Cummings was one of the first poets I was ever exposed to, and some of you may have come across these words before: “To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”
But it is the words preceding those famous ones that I find even more poignant.
“A poet is somebody who feels, and who expresses his feelings through words. This may sound easy. It isn’t. A lot of people think or believe or know they feel — but that’s thinking or believing or knowing; not feeling. And poetry is feeling — not knowing or believing or thinking.
Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but not a single human being can be taught to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody-but-yourself.”
We are taught, consciously or subconsciously, to be many things. (Linked a video here too, but heads up it's NSFW.) This week I’m going to set that overthinking aside…as best I can lol…and pay attention to what I feel…to be nobody-but-myself…and to be accepting of that.
And if that email feels like it needs to be chock-full of exclamation marks?
It will be!!!
Have a great week everyone!
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