DailyRi 016: Being An Optimist & A Realist Are Not Mutually Exclusive
I AM OPTIMISTIC AF. I AM ALSO REALISTIC AF. THE TWO CAN (& OFTEN DO) COEXIST.
i see the silver lining in every single situation, & where there are only dark clouds in sight, i create a damn silver line.
i am both an optimist & a realist. & personally, i believe being an optimist is the realest, most practical thing we can do.
when i was a high school teacher, my students & i did a unit on optimism, pessimism, idealism & realism. we talked about which of these qualities they identified with, & the discussions got super interesting. some of my students were self proclaimed pessimists. they believed the world was a messed up place & they believed that anyone who thought otherwise was an idealist. these students sounded a lot like myself when i was an early adult.
but when shit really hit the fan for me, i realized that i never gave myself enough credit. around the time i realized that i could not possibly control the vast majority of events in my life, i also realized how deeply optimistic i was. sure, bad things will happen. but what will become of me as a result of those bad things? after i lost a couple family members in 2017, i realized i was the definition of an optimist & a realist. i didn’t spend a day in denial, but i controlled the only things i could control: my attitude. i turned my grief into deep gratitude & lust for life & legacy. i held onto every ounce of optimism like it was my last breath, because god knows the quality of my life deeply depended on a positive attitude. & looking back, that was the most practical, sensible decision i have ever made. to create a silver lining out of dark, gloomy clouds. to insist on a calm during the storm.
i thought a whole lot about my students. the experiences they must have endured to get them to a point, so early on in their lives, where they already have a pessimistic worldview. & worse, where they truly believed that being pessimistic was the only practical thing to be. many of my students disagreed & defended their identities as realistic optimists, but, as a facilitator, i stayed silent. at that point, i hadn’t been through anything that i would categorize under “adversity,” & i wondered if i would be a pessimist under more harsh life circumstances.
I REALIZE NOW THAT PESSIMISM WILL NEVER HAVE A PLACE IN MY LIFE. IT WILL NEVER MAKE SENSE TO ME, ESPECIALLY UNDER HARSH CIRCUMSTANCES.
today, i hope anyone who believes pessimism is synonymous with realism reconsiders their opinion. there is a better way. i wish i could reassure fellow optimists that we are not idealistic for finding our silver linings. hell, i wish i could defend idealism, too. this life is already as hard & sad as it is. most of our experiences, we truly have no control over. but this life can also be intentionally beautiful, gratifying & exhilarating. in that small sliver of events that i can control, i believe the only realistic thing to be is optimistic (in my case, with sprinkles of idealism here & there).
🌈 NOW EXCUSE ME WHILE I RIDE MY UNICORN UP A RAINBOW. 🦄