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How to Tell Excitement and Terror Apart

I’m not sure how it slipped my notice for this long that one of my favorite movies, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, had a sequel.

But suffice it to say that, the moment I learned this news, I promptly went out to rent The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

Did I find it to be as entertaining as its predecessor (which I happen to own)? Not really.

Was I glad I watched it anyway? You bet.

Thanks to EW for the photo.
Thanks to EW for the photo.

Not only am I a huge Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Richard Gere and Bill Nighy fan, but there is something about watching folks older than me still wrestling with questions I also have that I find oddly reassuring.

For instance, take this quote (spoken by Evelyn, played by Dench):

I don’t know whether I’m excited or terrified. Sometimes it seems to me that the difference between what we want and what we fear is the width of an eyelash.

I don’t know about you, but I can TOTALLY relate. 

I mean, how exactly do we tell the difference between our own excitement and our own fear? Like riding a rollercoaster (which I’ve done), jumping out of a plane (which I haven’t done, thank god), or any new or not-so-new experience in life, excitement and terror seem to like to stick together.

And trying to separate them is like trying to separate my eyes from my stomach when faced with a mouth-watering piece of, well, anything.

Often I also don’t know whether I find life’s uncertainties exciting or terrifying.

Take love, for instance (which is the precise issue Dench touches on in her quote). I find it exciting that love often comes on quite suddenly and without much (any) warning.

And I find it terrifying that love can morph into all sorts of less advantageous things in about the same amount of time.

Would I give up the excitement of love because of the terror that comes with it? No. I personally would not.

But there are lots of other things where the feelings of terror vastly outweigh any excitement perks that may come along with them (see “jumping out of a plane”).

I suppose the moral of this story is that the “life” experience never really changes, whether you are 15, 45 or 79 (Evelyn’s age in the film).  The excitement still remains. So does the terror. So does everything in between.

And I have to admit, I find that rather, well….wonderful.

Today’s Takeaway: How do you tell the difference between a feeling of excitement and a feeling of terror – or do you? Do you look for a certain balance between the two to help you decide whether to proceed forward on the path or turn back? 


How to Tell Excitement and Terror Apart

Shannon Cutts

Parrot, tortoise & box turtle mama. Writer. Author. Mentor. Champion of all people (and things) recovered and recovering.

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APA Reference
Cutts, S. (2015). How to Tell Excitement and Terror Apart. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 22 Sep 2015
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