Why Do You Have to Be So Extreme?

Why Do You Have to Be So Extreme?

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One problem, particular to this moment in history, is how easily obsession can be conflated with extremism.

As a parent, I want my children to use critical thinking, question authority, and appropriately distrust their news sources. I want them to leverage their curiosity to dig deeper and learn more.

But what happens when they exhibit those behaviors and their resulting beliefs seem extreme, or at least extreme to me?

Am I telling my children to be Persian, but only about certain traditions? To be Jewish, but only in a specific manner of practice? To be Republican, but only fiscally?

Am I teaching my children about integrity, generosity, and commitment, but only so their behavior makes sense to me? In other words, be generous but only to people I approve of. Or be committed but only to causes that make sense to me?

You can see the problem with this pattern of thinking.

Yet so many of us move through the world in this exact manner, and if someone steps out of our comfort zone, we are quick to call them extreme.


In two of my earlier blogs, I wrote about Obsession and Intensity—qualities that can be misunderstood and have negative connotations. When was the last time you heard someone described as being “obsessed” or “intense” in a good way?

Intense, obsessed, and extreme are all words that have become weapons.

But none of the three is as weaponized as “extreme.”

Any point of view or action we disagree with seems worthy of being called extreme if we choose to. However, the problem with doing so is its damage to the person being labeled.

I participated in The Broken Arrow Triple Crown Skyrace this past weekend—an ultra-endurance event I trained for over a year. The hardest part of my training was not the physical training but answering the questions, “Why do you want to do it? What are you trying to prove? What’s wrong with regular exercise?”

“Why do you have to be so extreme?”

It’s taken me decades to understand that I don’t have to justify myself to others. But I’ll be honest, it’s not an easy practice.

So, here and now, let me share the positive benefits of being “extreme”—this way of moving through the world we are so afraid to be labeled as.

Extreme = The courage to step out of my comfort zone.

Extreme = I don’t know if I can, but I will try.

Extreme = Your boundary doesn’t have to be mine.

Extreme = Feeling freakin’ ALIVE.

Extreme = Your opinion but not my truth.


Is there something unsaid, undone, and unexpressed in your life because you feel that others would perceive doing so as extreme?

If so, isn’t it time to reconsider?

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