Here’s a fun fact: up until 5th grade I thought that every single person would grow up to be filthy rich and have all the things they could ever imagine. I had this undeniable optimistic attitude about everything. I won’t lie, there were moments that brought my little mood down, but I had always clutched to my undying notion that everything was going to work out for everyone. However, as the realities of life began to make themselves apparent to me, this “childish” spirit of optimism slowly faded. From then on, stars twinkled a little less, every day felt a little heavier, and I damn sure didn’t think everyone was going to be rich.
Although I wasn’t downright pessimistic, most people would still consider me optimistic in a sense, there was always a conscious effort on my part to control expectations and prepare for the worst. At the time it wasn’t a bad way to get through school and life in general. With my expectations being lowered, nothing could be a disappointment. However, this proved to be a double-edged sword as this mindset began to clash with my increasingly high aspirations.
The two mixed like oil and water, pulling my psyche in opposite directions. Looking back, I’m confident that a lot of the mental struggles I was going through and continue to battle stem from this internal conflict. Nonetheless, this strain on my life had flown under my radar for months, years even.
Then the world shut down.
With everything in my life put on pause and with constant negativity in all facets of life, I was forced to keep a positive outlook on the future to keep myself from going insane.
Slowly but surely I began to notice my childish outlook on life come back in pieces. When normally a grossly realistic and cynical thought would come to mind, outrageously positive best-case scenarios began to creep into the picture. It wasn’t an every single time thing, nor was it a most of the time thing, but it became something that kept me going. Over time, this “foolish optimism” became a habit that I would try to force into any situation before ultimately allowing myself to tackle it realistically.
I know that the majority of situations hardly have a chance of ever panning out in the ways my foolish optimism conjures up (after the fact, I often cringe at the exaggerated way I imagined things to go) but that’s not why I continue to force optimism within myself. The power in the thoughts doesn’t come from its practicality but rather the emotional snowball effect it creates.
Let me explain.
I have found that I always do my best work when I have a positive state of mind, one free of doubts and negativity. It makes me more willing to take risks that I otherwise wouldn’t have and allows me to focus more intensely on the bigger picture, instead of getting bogged down in the little details that tend to irk me. But more importantly, these positive thoughts give me a glimpse of what could happen in my wildest dreams, motivating me to chase that perfection. While occasionally I will become disappointed if I miss the mark, or feel as though I didn’t do enough to grasp that perfect outcome, it has become a whole lot easier picking myself back up, knowing that there is another stupidly optimistic dream to chase after next.
So, even though I haven’t made a drastic change in how I logically and practically approach things, the process has become much sweeter with a little bit of my child-like enthusiasm for life back in my toolbox.