Are you an Explorer or an Addict?

Not long ago, I was contemplating signing up for a workshop that sounded interesting but still a part of me thought, “Seriously? Why?” I answered myself out loud, announcing to the empty room, “Because I want to, it’s interesting, and I can learn a lot.” With that, I took out my credit card and signed up.

Fast forward to the day of the first class. It was a long day at work, my brain felt like a twisted sponge from having to problem-solve a situation that came up at work, I hadn’t slept well from the night before, and all I wanted to do was sit on the couch and unplug. You know those days. We all do.

I looked at the clock around 5 p.m. and the the conversation in my head went something like this:

[Cue whine] “Ugh, a class at 8 tonight. You’re already tired from the day, you know the last thing you want to do is be on the phone/computer again for 90 minutes later tonight.”

“I know, but how lazy can I get? I can call from my own home for Pete’s sake. It’s not like I have to drive anywhere.”

“Can’t we just watch TV? America’s Got Talent is on tonight.”

“No. Suck it up. We’re doing it.”

With an eye toward the clock, I made sure not to have a heavy carb dinner so I wouldn’t nod off in the middle of the call, and at 7:58, with a resigned sigh, I dragged my mental feet and moved into another room with my notebook and phone. I was very interested in learning about the subject matter but by the time 8 p.m. rolls around, the last thing I want to do is to actively listen to someone lecture and have to think. Didn’t I know the start time when I signed up for the class? Sure thing, but intention is golden when fueled by caffeine and its promise that anything is possible. I stayed awake and alert and it really was a very good class after all. Six more weeks to go!

I’ve always loved to learn and have a healthy dose of curiosity about how things work, so it’s no surprise to those who know me that I’ve been known to take all sorts of workshops ranging from serious learning and skill building to one day classes of “Oh! So that’s how’s it’s made” which for me included basket-weaving; frame-drum-making; krauting; and making natural herbal salves. As the years go by though, I’ve been more selective about where I invest my time and energy. If signing up for a particular class or workshop is the best way for me to learn what I want to know, then I’m there. If not, someone else can take my seat.

Recently, I started to wonder about people we all know at least one of: those workshop junkies that are always going to one class or another every time you talk to them. Then there are those workshop followers that sign-up, stay for a few classes, but don’t follow through. You’ve heard it: “It takes too much time; costs too much money; I was drunk when I agreed to do it (true excuse someone told me); the location is inconvenient; I can’t get a babysitter; I was too tired to keep doing it; It was boring.”

While yes, some of these are legitimate reasons for quitting a class, I can’t help but wonder what makes some people sign-up for classes on an almost rotational basis and then there are those that are on the sign-up and quit sign-up and quit carousel?

What is their Holy Grail they are looking for? Are they naturally restless souls eagerly checking mailboxes for the next calendar of events or running away from something and looking for the next distraction from their lives? Maybe these are the reasons for some people, but what if the pull was really an addiction to the newness, the rush of possibility, the excitement that was the sole driving force to seek out the constant turnover of a new class, gym membership, cooking class, [fill in the blank]?

And those people that quit the classes? Is it a lack of perseverance or is it that the excitement of the newness and the possibility –the hope– has worn off and so it’s no longer interesting? Perhaps it’s a deep form of self-sabotage where people set themselves up for the high of the experience, and when it’s no longer exciting and the high is no longer there, they quit—already looking for another “fix” before they hit the parking lot.

It’s natural to be excited and full of hope when we try something new but if the personal interest and curiosity become something that changes as often as the hands on the clock, and there’s a pattern of disinterest after a short time, maybe there’s something deeper behind the excuses.

So what drives you? Are you an explorer of new possibilities or an addict to the excitement?

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4 thoughts on “Are you an Explorer or an Addict?

  1. As someone who has taken a ton of workshops and classes, I have to say that I just like to learn. Now I don’t sign up for things that don’t interest me so that definitely keeps in attendance. I’m also not a quitter, for the most part: I’d beat myself up too much for quitting so I just keep going, even when it isn’t fun anymore, just for the sake of completion. Now that’s when it comes to classes and workshops. I hate starting something and not completing it and my life is full of those kind of projects so when I sign up for a workshop or class, i generally take it to the very end. But I totally get you about the heavy sigh when you realize you have to get on the phone at 8:00 at night when all you want to do is watch another episode of the Real Housewives of New Jersey or something equally shameful. 🙂 Good post Renata. And perfect timing because just before I read your post I realized it was Wednesday and that tonight I have to be on the phone for a weekly 7:00 class and I said, with a heavy sigh, “oh shit, it’s Wednesday!” ha!

    • I’m glad the timing of the post was so perfect! It’s tough being on the East Coast because we always get nailed with the later hours of workshops that are call-ins or skypes, so that the other time zones could be accommodated, Ah well. Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Love this post! I take classes when I’m interested in something and I do love to learn new things – it’s exciting and invigorating. But I also love peace and being left alone and watching TV or reading a book. Fortunately, those online classes start at 5 pm here on the west coast, so I’m still awake, but I can’t take too many of them – that’s when People’s Court is on. 🙂

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