Rachel Williamson of Edina took the first steps toward recovery today when she resisted the urge to add an exclamation point to the end of her email to several colleagues at the accounting firm where she is a group level administrative assistant.
“I’ve known for some time that I have a problem,” Rachel quietly admitted, “it’s something that, up until now, I’ve been unable, or maybe unwilling, to control. It’s just so easy to be that cheerful, ebullient enthusiastic person when you’ve got the exclamation point crutch. I finally had to admit to the problem when the exclamation points started to creep into my Word documents, titles on Excel spreadsheets…even my text messages…I’m so ashamed.” Ironically described as “quiet” by her coworkers and friends, Rachel admits that her addiction has been an uphill battle.
“It’s so easy to be that jaunty, bubbly person when you’re hiding behind an exclamation point.”
It was a polite but direct email reply from her manager requesting that she “tone it down in her emails” that was the first clue to Rachel that she had to take action.
“I have to say that at first I was hurt when I got Ed’s email. I mean, I’m just trying to be cheerful and bright. But then I realized that Ed was right…it was just too much. I was practically shouting my cheerfulness to people. I mean who talks that way?”
Rachel’s next step was to discreetly reach out to fellow enthusiastic punctuation overusers in her office and form a self-help group. They meet once a week at lunch at a local Panera Bread.
“It’s loud enough in there that we can all really just be ourselves, really let our enthusiastic hair down and share.”
“We all knew we had a problem. I was grateful to Rachel for reaching out,” said Maggie, “I have a problem with both exclamation points and happy faces…well, actually all kinds of emoticons.”
Rachel admits that she’s still got a ways to go in her recovery.
“What with Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook, we enthusiastic punctuation overusers have a special challenge in fighting against the immediate gratification of adding those four…or Lord help me…even five or six, exclamation points to the end of a post or a Tweet…It’s a journey.”