To start off, I hate it when people behave like ultra pessimists and respond to accusations of being such by saying, “I’m not a pessimist (bro), I’m just a realist.”
Translated, that says, “I’m totally not being a whiny b-hole (bro), I just see things the way they really are because I’m hype and in-tune n’ shit.”
See how goofy it sounds when clarified?
It’s the same lazy route people take when they fancy themselves a sophisticated critic when all they do is harsh on whatever the subject matter is. It doesn’t make you all high-brow, insightful, or point to a delicate taste when nothing pleases you, it’s lazy. L-A-Z-Y, lazy. Criticism is a dissection, a surgical breakdown and analysis of what you were presented with followed by feedback on what elicited responses from you in positive and negative ways. It’s not just being hard-headed.
grapes my nuts chives my spuds grinds my gears
gets my goat so badly because it takes no effort whatsoever to not see the good in things. It’s so easy to look at a situation and see why it sucks or how it could suck. Armchair anthropologists/psychologists will tell you it’s a primal rooting in our brains to see, seek out, and guard against the negative. So of course it’s easy, it’s natural.
You know what isn’t easy?
Being an optimist.
And trust me, this isn’t a boo-hoo on behalf of optimists. We have it pretty good always seeing some kind of benefit or path to success in grimy situations. What I am saying about it, is that it’s exhausting.
And not in a day-to-day sense, necessarily. But it seems to be an undeniable fact of adult life that things get pretty shitty sometimes (also natural, as armchair sociologists would have it).
We fall into ruts. We run up against walls. We lose traction. Time to time we just zig when we ought to have zagged, and Boom! — life problem.
THAT is where being an optimist is goddamn exhausting. (And that’s a little different from having a spirit to persevere, but we’ll get to that in a second.) Because especially if one is an optimist by nature while thing after thing in our life explodes or crumbles around us, the part of our brain that makes us shitty gamblers takes over: “It’s okay,” says The Brain, “this next thing we try will be the one that works out,” or, “Nope, it’s fine. It’s this next thing that will be what works.” So on and so forth.
You lose your job and you set up three interviews at new places of work. The first two totally bomb and don’t call you back, and while you’re thinking, “it’s okay, this next one is the one that works,” your car breaks down. “It’s okay,” say Brain again, “we’ll just take the bus.” And so you take the bus to your third interview, but you get sick the night before and mugged as you step off the bus. “It’s okay,” Brian pipes up once more, “at least we’ll have a new job to help us with our car soon.” Meanwhile, you make it to your third interview, and it turns out the interviewer is racist or something – boom – rejected immediately. And your phone’s battery died, so you can’t Uber home and have to walk instead.
“It’s okay,” whispers Brain. “In a few years, you’ll be able to look back on this as one hell of a chapter in your life.”
Even those points where you’ve been knocked down, picked yourself up and dusted yourself off, only to see your efforts fail and get knocked down again, and repeated that process dozens of times with only minor, scattered successes…
…it can leave you feeling really trapped to know that come morning, after a night’s sleep, you’ll be back to telling yourself that it’s this next effort that will break through.
It’s dancing on the line of delusion, battling – almost secretly – with this inner question of whether or not you should cut your losses because this is a vain effort, but knowing your habit is going to keep the cycle going anyway.
This isn’t to speak on those who’ve fallen into a dark place and need help to climb back out. Having a spirit that perseveres is hard for everyone. And I guess that’s my point here, really. Times get difficult for everyone (and if they don’t for you, either congratu-fuckin’-lations, or re-examine what you get up to, because you’re a liar and/or it’s probably boring and unremarkable).
My point at the end of it all with how it regards optimism, I suppose, is that just because a happy face and strong spirit are at the front of it doesn’t somehow magically erase the struggle. It’s difficult emotionally loading up each new effort, sure that “this is the one,” then watching it fail, and trying to convince yourself you aren’t delusional when you do it again because giving up just feels icky.
Not trying to change anyone’s mind or “spread enlightenment,” really; but cool if it happens.
Anyhow, peace y’all.