Opinionated. Animated. Loud. Aggressive. Stubborn. Obsessive.

To many, someone like myself can come across as all of the above. And maybe there’s some truth to that. What most don’t understand is that this comes from a place of deep passion, care, and concern for the things that mean the most to me.

As an avid Parks and Recreation binge-watcher, it seems most appropriate to reference the legendary Leslie Knope. For those who do not watch the television show, Leslie Knope (played by Amy Poehler) is the Deputy Director of the Pawnee, Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. In season four, Leslie decides to run for Pawnee's city council. In her closing statement at the final debate during her campaign, Leslie says:

“If I seem too passionate, it's because I care. If I come on strong, it's because I feel strongly. And if push too hard, it's because things aren't moving fast enough.”

I’ve watched this TV show an unhealthy amount of times, and yet no matter how many times I hear this speech, I can’t help but stop to really let those words sink in.

It’s difficult to explain, and it may seem silly to experience an emotional reaction from a sitcom about local government employees, but it feels like a wave of understanding is hitting me when I hear her say that. I acknowledge that I can be overly passionate, come off strong, and push too hard. But hearing someone put into words why makes me feel a sense of comfort that it’s okay to be this way.

I have a tendency to latch onto things and wrap my entire identity in them. This creates a sense of responsibility in me that comes across as controlling and unnecessarily opinionated. It is all rooted in caring too much. I fully realize that I may be going over the top with my opinion-sharing, defensive tendencies, and emotionality at times. I simply want what is best, and that burning desire can create tunnel vision.

So to those that begin seeing these tendencies, approach me as a friend. Share your opinions with me and let me know when I’m wrong and/or out of line. All it takes is a little perspective to make me notice that I have allowed my passion to communicate itself as rash behavior.

If you’re reading this and feel like you can relate, you’ve probably wished that you could turn off your tendency to care. You wish you could be the type to sit back and just watch. Let things play out as they will. Allow yourself to relinquish control and feel comfortable doing so. I’ve certainly thought all of those things. Hundreds of times.

However, from what I’ve learned from my own experience, the world needs those people who care too much. Don’t try and turn that switch off. Instead, learn to recognize the difference between passion and irrationality. Listen to others and respect every perspective. Even try shifting your own. But remain a force of passion and care. Because as Leslie Knope says,