Ask anyone who has known me a long time to describe me in one word, I will bet on them saying "intense." It's a label I have been given over and over again. It's one that I never came to accept, until recently.
Intense. Strangers thought it was weird, my boyfriends dumped me because of it, and my friends joked about it - not always in an innocent way. I hated the word. I flinched when I heard the word and my name used in the same sentence. I went on the defense. The fact that I was intense and passionate in a part of the world where most people prefer normal, calm and the comfort of routine was a burden. One that my dear parents and family, my allies, did their best to help carry and nurture.
Now I realize that my intensity has an awesome purpose. I'm intense because I am signing up for a career that is extremely intense. I have an overabundance of energy because I'm going to need it when humanity's flaws and evil tendencies get in the way of good intentions time and time again. Failure is a given in international development and it's going to take a lot of passion to get back out there and try again. If my life turns out the way I have it in my head, I'll be working alonside the military and other federal officials in fairly dangerous places where I'll be riding in armored vehicles and may need a military escort at times. There is a good chance that my career will require bursts of activity and focus followed by rest and return to "normalcy." Intense? Yes. Perfect.
So, as it turns out, my intense personality was the difference between a predictable, average life and one that is full of mystery, excitement, opportunity, fun, ambition and life-changing experiences. A life focused on mortgages, retirement funds, 401ks, the grind for the next 60 years . . . or . . . a bunch of unknowns that whisper of endless possibilities.
If you aren't intense, you can't stand out in the crowd. I don't want to blend in. I don't want an ordinary life. I want an extraordinary one.
"Intense." Why, thank you.