Over beers with my brother during the holiday break, we discussed the unbearable level of whelm*. This is an amusing measure of emotion we both use to gauge how we feel about any given situation, thing, person, or elements otherwise, in our lives.
Cam and I are decidedly different characters all round; where he is calm, contained, and generally pragmatic on the outside, I am excitable, fluid, and somewhat romantic.
It was while discussing whelm that I also realised how similar we are, not just because we're siblings, but because we very often think alike too. Same same, but different. You know?
In a beautifully mundane moment of magic, I was delighted by the serendipitous duality of this observation. It gave me a buzz that even the Coronas couldn't compete with, and I enjoyed the fact that, though we lead rather contrasting lives, many of the fundamentals overlap.
Back to the whelm.
Any given situation you walk into can make you excited to be there or deflated within a matter of moments. First dates are like that; you walk into the room and see someone you asked out, or who asked you out, and you get a flutter of warmth in your gut. Hey, check out that sexy smile, this is going to be great!
You can also get a feeling of dread like a weight on your shoulders; actually, I'm not keen on this date, this dinner, or this person at all. Fuck. I have 2 hours of mindless small talk ahead of me. Blergh.
Both have a level of whelm. The first is high, say on a scale of 1 to 10, so you'd probably call it a solid 8. The second is clearly low; on a scale of soggy squash to spicy, crispy, oven-roasted pumpkin, this would be brussel sprouts.
But we're talking emotion here, whelm, and that takes on a whole new curve. A high level can push you to overwhelmed (which isn't necessarily good), and a low level can push for underwhelmed (which isn't necessarily bad).
Emotion is a slippery thing at the best of times, and recognising your level of whelm means that you can assess how much you are going to emotionally invest in the situation ahead.
Deeply underwhelmed by being at work on a Tuesday with nothing to do, and your colleagues asking inane questions every 20 minutes? You're probably going to invest way too much time in what that guy from HR randomly said on the way past your desk, then read way too much more into it. Perfect recipe for emotional disaster.
Overwhelmed by how awesome your holiday trip is going to be, full of excitement and adventure and stuff? It's fair to say you'll forget something a little bit important because you've emotionally invested in all the fun stuff, and not so much the practical stuff.
I'm not trying to be a spoilsport here, it's just that how whelmed you are is important. And it gets moreso as you get older.
No, I do not want to go to dinner at 8pm. I am deeply underwhelmed by the prospect of being starving, cranky, and unable to charm due to the formers.
Absolutely, I would love to hang out at your cousins place on the beach next month! Ergh, dammit, slightly overwhelmed by agreeing to spend time at a strangers house somewhere I don't know.
See? Whelm. Whelmed. Lovely word. Very satisfying.
If it occurs to you that I've just built an entire blog around a single word, a strange word with inexplicable depths...
...you'd be right. I never said all these pieces would make sense, and I never said there would always be deep and meaningful lessons learnt.
Made you think though, didn't it? Made you wonder how you feel right now, and how that's going to effect the rest of your day or night, right?
Made you consider; what's my level of whelm right now; brussel sprouts or Best of David Bowie?
*Of course we made that up. Did you even need to ask?