I am, without a doubt, a pessimist's worst nightmare.
I'm a glass half-full type of believer. An optimist that refuses to buckle at the knees, even at times when it's hard to just get out of bed or eat a meal. Even when these battles that are being fought have been going on for far too many years and I'm tired of fighting. Even when staring directly into the monster's eyes was blinding. I've been this way since I was little; always believing that good would always triumph over evil and that one day all of what is hurting us would be a catalyst for something greater. Some would call it naiveté. I looked at the world with glossy eyes that believed in the best outcome. A boy I loved once asked me how I could be so positive during tough times. How was I able to counter unpleasant news with a response that was so confident in our path to wherever the hell we were going? That, even when we were ending our unconfirmed, grey relationship, I was able to look at the bright side for both of us. I was confident. I had to be. For various relationships, friendly and intimate, I was the glue that kept things together. The bandaid on wounds that kept opening up, the rock that refused to budge, the reminder that things are okay even when they are far from it. This is who I was and who I wanted to be; the girl that made everything better in situations that weren't so bright.
I never wanted to be the type of girl that pretends things don't impact her. I never wanted to create a shield that places a barrier between my own emotions and the world. I was that person, though. I became a person I didn't recognize. After losing two important people in 2014, I tried really hard to cover up the fact that this loss made me incredibly heartbroken. I acted like it didn't have an impact on me. I pretended like I was calm, cool, and collected; I wrote about being okay even when I wasn't. The realest thing I posted from that time was an Instagram shot of a fortune from a fortune cookie that I didn't even eat. I was pretending because I didn't know what the hell to do with all of these emotions that I've never experienced before. "Life is so good" writes a girl that couldn't get out of bed for a week because she felt dizzy every time she sat up. I lost myself during that year of pretending. I was aching so much. I was sad and I loathed myself for it. I hated the thought of being sad over another person. I hated that I got lost in another person and I relied on them to define me. I hated that I was so mad and bitter, completely opposite of who I was and who I wanted to be. I hate that this whole experience went against my optimist beliefs. Shame was an oversized coat I threw on myself every morning; too large and heavy for me to carry. I was ashamed of myself during those periods, I felt like a fake after I spent so much time putting what I thought was positive vibes out into the world.
After I tried to shake off that coat full of shame, I stumbled upon a quote by Carl Jung that reminded me why I was so obsessed with being an optimist that hid her struggles. "Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people." I could be confident in my positivity and strength for other people and their own hardships, but that didn't mean that I was actually properly dealing with what was going on in my mind. I could help people as much as I wanted to, but it didn't mean that my own darkness was being tended to. It wasn't until I lost those two people that I realized how little control I had over life. That at any moment, things can change and decisions can be made and sometimes there isn't room for my persistent optimism. It was a bittersweet moment, but the loss of two people became the catalyst I needed. The wakeup call to start focusing on myself more, and I did. I wrote a lot about it. I started opening up and tending to my own darkness. By doing this, I was really able to start helping those closest to me that were struggling. Instead of just saying it gets better, I was a shoulder to cry on. I could understand what they were going through because I already did it. I already lived it and survived, wounds and all.
Sometimes I'm a realest, but most of the time I refuse to let the glass be anything but half-full. I've had to live that way. Without believing that good things will come or that life will go on even after hardships, what would be the point in all of this? But I've learned that optimism does not equal happiness. You can't pretend to be happy when you're not. Self-help books and inspirational quotes can help guide you but you have to put in the work, too. Similar to how I couldn't wake up one morning and be completely healed, I can't wake up and just pretend to be the spokesperson for positivity for others when I'm struggling. Sometimes I'm not the bandaid. Sometimes I'm the wound that needs to be cleaned. Sometimes I have to say such is life when I wake in the morning until I can get to the point where I can say life is so good and really, truly mean it. I'm always going to call myself an optimist--I will always believe that good things will come in time. I can be both the optimist and the girl that sometimes knows that life may not get better by tomorrow, but maybe a year from now. The difference is that by allowing myself to stop focusing on being the beacon of light for everyone else, I was able to begin taking care of someone that needed her wounds tending to for years. I can be my own beacon of light instead of hiding my darkness away and pretending everything is okay for the sake of everyone around me. I can open up the wound and the allow the light to heal it, just as it is. No pretending allowed.
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