On Thursday night while I was at my second library job at the community college a student randomly expressed to me as she was leaving that she was having a horrible time trying to figure out what she should write a persuasive paper about for her English class. She then proceeded to ask me what she should write it about....I thought in my head, "oh dear, is there any way I can persuade you not to ask me this question?" But on the outside I smiled and dove in to the conversation. I asked her what she felt passionately about and we jokingly discussed some possibilities. But as I suggested ideas to her she kept making the face that everyone on the planet would recognize as..."super nice try but um, no." I could quickly see that she and I felt passionately about different things. As soon as she left the library I snatched up my book that I write my thoughts in and I scribbled three questions:
What could I persuade people about?
Have I ever even persuaded anyone?
So I sat there, at my desk, in the very quiet library, and I thought and I thought about these questions that I had written down. Have I ever convinced, converted, or influenced anyone? I have done a lot of the, "appealing to reason" part... a whole bunch of the prevailing, advising and urging but I am not sure that when it comes to the actual end of the persuading process I have actually ever persuaded someone to feel as passionately about something that I do. Isn't that what persuading is? Getting someone to feel the same way you do? Or getting them to at least try to feel the same way you do? Some people are so good at getting you to try something or do something you might never have done. Like Dr. Seuss he wrote a whole book about persuading someone to eat green eggs and ham. Do I want to be the kind of person that can persuade people that my way is best? Do I want to be a walking magazine ad or a commercial for what I feel passionately about? I know this topic is most likely simpler than I am going to make it but this blog is not called Overthinking Everything just because :)
Once I actually focused on persuading I quickly realized that our entire lives actually seem to be about trying to persuade others. If I find something I think is amazing, or yummy, or beautiful, or interesting, or fun I will try with all my might to get you to try it. And I feel way too sad if you won't even try it. And when you do try it I will sit there staring at you waiting until I am about to burst hoping to observe your joy. Yes, I am sure it will be joy :) Why would you not love what I love? :) Why do I even want to persuade you to love what I love? I would suggest it is possibly because we crave connecting and bonding with all our might. The minute you meet someone you are asking questions and searching for a connection without even realizing it.
I tried to think about things I have been known to attempt to persuade people to do....
I spent all last summer at that darn Six Flags New England trying to persuade my 11 year old that rides other than the carousel had the potential to be fun. I did not ever win this persuading battle. I wanted her to experience these rides and "have fun". Yes, I know, have fun according to me :) Her idea of fun was different. She does not feel passionately about roller coasters like I do :)
I sat in couples therapy for a few months trying to persuade someone to see things and I failed at that persuading gig too.
There is the most amazing cupcake shop in our town and I am constantly trying to persuade people to go there because I can not imagine a happy life without these fabulous perfect cupcakes.
I wish I could persuade everyone that being ten pounds overweight is the best thing ever.
Right now I have my darling 15 month old grand daughter visiting at my house and I am amazed that I forgot how much time and energy we spend persuading our babies that they do want to eat what we are giving them, they do want to sleep, they do not want to eat something off the ground, they do like getting their diaper changed, and they do want to play somewhere other than the stairs.
Then my mind realized that as a mom of seven my life has consisted of constant persuading. I persuade them to:
brush their teeth
take a shower
change their clothes that do not match
that yes, the date on the milk carton is past this particular day but it does not really mean it is not still good :) not hold the cat before they leave for school because they will get cat hair all over themselves
to do their homework first
to do their jobs
that they will like what I cooked for dinner
that bedtime is at ten
to try extracurricular activities
to be nice
to wear underwear
But in my mind I know these are all just little persuadings and the question that still haunts me is, Have I ever persuaded someone about something really important? UGH...I do not think I have.
I figured that first I needed to figure out what is important to me? What do I feel passionate enough about that I could write my own pretend English paper about it and get a pretend A?
I am a sixth generation Mormon and my religion is a huge part of who I am, the choices I make, and the way I look at the world. I love that my religion helps me to know where I have come from and where I am going and helps me to have perspective on this world and what is important. Have I ever persuaded someone that it is worth it to study my religion and pray about it to see if it is right for them?
Gardening is important to me. I could write a pretty persuasive paper about the beauties of gardening. But that is not a very controversial topic so that would be the easy way out.
When I had my seven little babies I felt very strongly about teaching my babies to fall asleep on their own....and maybe even...gasp...letting them do some crying in their bed while they were at it but I am not sure if I could persuade you that it was the right thing for you.
I feel pretty passionately about moderation. I believe if you find yourself being extreme about anything you might want to examine that. Maybe I could write about that?
Oh, wait I know I should write about merging. I feel extremely passionate about people who wait to the last minute to merge. Especially when they have been seeing signs for miles warning them that the time to merge is coming. Could I persuade anyone that thinking of others and merging early would solve all the world's problems? :)