Bit keen?

“Shine On You Crazy Diamond” painted by synaesthesia by Melissa McCracken

Synonyms of Keen: anxious, ardent, eager, enthusiastic, fervent, impatient

Synonyms of Cool: placid, quiet, aloof, disapproving, neat, dandy

I like to consider myself as a pretty straightforward person. I frown when unhappy. I speak up (often too much) when I disagree. I smile lots when I’m having a good day. I apply for things that I want to do. I reply to messages when I receive and read them.When as children we were told to just be ourselves, the way that 9-year old me interpreted this was to be honest, say yes to new things and always try my best. Nowadays, there is a word for this last group. Keen

Before I came to University, the word ‘keen’ meant in my mind to quite like something. I have always been a keen reader. I’m quite keen on Harry Styles. However, since the beginning of last year I have discovered the other connotations of the word ‘keen’, quite a few being negative.  When I got to Bristol I was pretty clueless – so to overcome this I decided to apply for every single opportunity ever. I got a job, joined more societies than I can remember and went to all my lectures even if it meant sleeping in some of them (most of them). Yes, I took on too much and yes I did regret it sometimes. But ultimately, giving 110% to everything I tried could only be a good idea in my eyes.

I am by no means writing these few words to say I have been bullied or anything similar as when people find out how ‘keen’ indeed I am, they just smile at how eager I am and perhaps think I am a little bit of a try hard. But what’s wrong with that? By writing, filming, talking and meeting with more people than ever, I have learnt more in the past year than in the previous five or six all put together. If I had stayed in my halls only joining societies and projects that my friends were involved with, I would probably not be a section editor of a student newspaper today. Or get to make teddy bears daily and be paid for it.

People remember keen beans, and sure, we can be a bit annoying and too perky from time to time but ultimately being keen can only expand your skillset and enrich your life with all of the new connections and lessons you learn.On top of purposely aiming to be an overachiever, I am a firm believer that being keen in your personal life is not a lame thing to be, either. Of course, no one wants that person who doesn’t get the gist after cold stares and ‘read’ messages that they’re just too clingy.

But why, if you like someone a considerable amount, would you pretend to not be interested? Or calculate a delayed response, when you have acknowledged the message? The idea of relationships being like a game frustrates me. Of course, I have played it and probably do as much as the next person, but I am beginning to wonder what the point of it is.

If you pretend to be indifferent to the people around you, what’s setting you apart from the next stranger who actually is? This pretention implies that you are 100% sure that the person you’re coveting will take the initiative, and will be the keen one asking questions and suggesting things – so that you don’t have to be and can carry on seeming effortlessly cool and desirable. So if both parties decide that keen is not cool, does that mean that the relationship is to be given up on before it even started?

In today’s day and age, communication and visibility is inevitable – every social network is monitoring when we’re online, seeing things and letting everyone know when we’re typing things. It’s a toxic environment in which nothing goes unseen. So why go to the lengthy effort of letting someone know their message has reached you, and make the conscious decision to let them know ‘you’re playing it cool’ by not replying? Who does that benefit?

If I do not want to continue a relationship – of any kind – I may be cowardly and not reply. And not smile. And avoid. But why if you actually like someone would you purposely wedge a gigantic iceberg between the two of you just for the sake of seeming a bit cooler and less eager? If the feeling is not reciprocated, an eager beaver is the most awkward thing to come across. But if it is, surely two is better than one? Having been both the keen and the cool – in my experience it is far more enjoyable to be faced with a keen person that with a cold one. So why not make the situation more enjoyable for both parties and get a move on with things? Keenness speeds things up – it opens doors, brings skills and opportunities and makes things happen.

Maybe it’s because young and naïve me listened to Cinderella too much and was taught to have courage and be kind. Or maybe because it’s just common sense. If you want to do something, do it. If you like someone, let them know. No one cares how cool you are. Keen is actually cool.

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