Growing up, I never really thought of myself as an optimist. It probably had to do with the fact that I wasn’t. In fact, on any given day I was pretty close to the opposite, which at the time I never would have admitted to myself. I was a self-proclaimed “realist” who relied heavily on the ability to keep my dreams, goals, and secret hopes in check. When you grow up in the environment that I did, you learn pretty quickly that dreamers are naïve, goals are a waste of time, and hope doesn’t keep the lights on. With this mindset, it’s no wonder that the glass was always half empty.
The problem with seeing the glass half empty all the time, though, is that with so much missing from the glass we often realize that we feel half empty too. I guess it makes sense. Our outlooks on life are a reflection of who we are. What we do, what we say, and how we feel go hand in hand with how we view the world in relation to ourselves and others.
I guess that means that each one of us is (more or less) a glass; a glass containing connections, experiences, and countless human emotions. If we were to stick with the glass analogy with regards to perspective, we’re all either full, half full, or half empty. The reality, however, is that the fill level varies from one person to another based on our individual paths in life.
Does the level really matter, though? Does having more connections, experiences, and the emotions that come with both mean that we feel fuller than others? Does it mean that we will view the world more positively than those who have experienced less? It would be difficult to say either way, but my gut tells me that it has nothing to do with the number, but rather the quality.
Our lives are shaped by the quality of the connections that we make and the events that we experience. So much in fact that I now find myself on the other side of the spectrum, beaming most days with that annoying eternal optimism that once made my skin crawl. I went from moody, reclusive, and jaded to moderately less moody(if we’re being honest), open, and disgustingly bubbly. I surrounded myself with the makings of a happy life: good people, quality experiences, and a better understanding of the world around me.
I grew up thinking that optimism was in many ways the absence of pragmatism, when in fact the two are not so far apart after all. Optimists don’t reject reality, but rather accept it in its entirety – both the good and the bad – and choose to focus on the best parts of it (which admittedly isn’t always the easiest thing to do). In the last few years, despite some of the harder things I have faced, I’ve become the type of person who chooses to accept my reality and focus on the beautiful things within it. I’ve become the type of person who no longer sees what’s missing, but rather what’s already there and always has been; and I’m decidedly better for it.
Growing up, I never really thought of myself as an optimist. I guess it had to do with the fact that I hadn’t yet come face to face with the people and the things that would make me one.
Until next time…stay classy.
– C.M. Berry