I was in the car with a friend the other day, asking some of life's deep questions while stuck in the terrible traffic on Colorado Blvd. At one point, she told me that she identified as a glass half empty kind of gal. I laughed. She said, "No, really. It's just practical to prepare for the worst."
She was half-chiding, half-serious, but I felt an immediate sense of sadness. What a bleak way of thinking. I asked her, "What about holding on for hope and the power of positive thinking?"
"All that optimism is just lying to yourself," she said.
I was surprised to find myself filled with a keen defensiveness. I wanted to defend this optimism, my own optimism. I've always considered myself a positive person, have worked hard to find the silver lining, but I've never considered myself a full-fledged optimist. At least not totally.
In fact, I used to revolt at the "don't worry, be happy" attitude that would roll in on my newsfeed on the daily. It always made me squirm a little, in large part because I felt it lacked authenticity, some kind of breathing pulse of the reality of life's challenges. A sugar coating. And sometimes I still feel that way.
But things have changed for me. I got sick and stayed sick. Before that, I got lost in New York and came home with my tail between my legs. Simply put, I've struggled, as so many of us have, to find my foothold, my place in the world.
I needed -- I need -- that special brand of optimism in my life. I need inspiration and positive reinforcement, reminders that life is full of grace and beauty. I need it to get through my days of pain, to cope with the emotional frustration and anxiety my situation produces. Sometimes I need it just to give myself a reason to get out of bed.
So, I've come to appreciate these messages of perseverance. I find comfort in these words of inspiration. And, light and strength in the wisdom of others. There is so much hope in those who share their own stories of failures and obstacles, of resilience and healing. And I want to share these words, as well as a few words of my own, to help other people find the same hopefulness that I'm seeking, that I'm fighting for.
So, perhaps I am or, at the very least, try to be an optimist after all.