I have been accused of wearing rose-colored glasses by more than one person. I used to think this was a bad thing, but as I have gained perspective, I think I like my view of the world, and I’ll just keep these on, but thanks.
Here’s the thing: resilience, persistence, and optimism are much more healthy coping skills than pessimism and constant gloom-and-doom and borrowing trouble. Yesterday’s post on sowing what you reap dovetails nicely with this. I’m not talking about keeping an unrealistic vision of the world – people are not always nice, bad things happen, and there’s not always a good reason when tragedy strikes. I’m not living in a book, not even one of my own. What I’m referring to is the ability to bounce back from events that leave scars (whether mentally or physically) without allowing them to permanently maim my life. I’m talking about the ability to just keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, even when it seems that there is no light, no hope, no joy at all left in the world. The gift of trusting people even after other people have reached in and torn your heart out time and again.
Despite the blog, and essays I write about my inmost feelings and thoughts, I’m still a relatively private person. I don’t splay my life out for all to poke over and part of the reason is that I choose not to dwell on the past and the things that lurk there like grim reminders of the worst in humanity. I choose to remember that I have been loved and supported and accepted for who I am. There are friends I can talk to about anything, without worrying they will hate me later. That – that is a gift, my readers. I value each and every one of you, especially the ones who reach out in the comments, but I can tell you that true friends are worth far more than… well, rubies is the wrong gem. How about emeralds and sapphires? I’m not fond of diamonds, so you all get to have colors!
Success in life, in any metric, depends on being able to visualize a goal, and then reach out for it. A toddler learning to walk starts out stumbling, falling, crawling, but always those little starfish hands reaching for what they want. Adults are less cute, but it’s still the same. We want a good job, a family, a garden of life, and we reach out for it. If we lose the rose-colored hope that illuminates the potential of the future, we lose sight of the goals. Drifting aimlessly through life is failure. When you fall down, get back up again. If you have to scoot or crawl for a while before you can latch onto something and pull yourself up, then do that.
Nor is life without sacrifice. I’m sure I exasperate my husband from time to time, because I want to do all the things! and he will gently remind me that I’m just one person, and only have so much time in the day to complete my tasks. That’s my rose-colored glasses coming into play. I see the possibilities but I have to stop and count the costs, too. Am I willing to give up having a social life, to achieve my career goals? To give up watching that movie with my kids so I can do homework? To be frugal for a couple of years to be out of debt? it’s not always a bad thing to sacrifice. But you can’t stand there crying over the lost opportunities, you have to relentlessly keep moving forward toward your goals. There’s no room for vegging on the couch for days on end watching youtube videos if you’re going to make something of yourself.
I linked to a paper yesterday that was a study on how successful people came to be that way, and optimistic outlook was a strong factor. Let’s put it this way: if you believe you cannot do something, you will not even try it. If someone forces you into it, you will fail, which will reinforce your belief that you can’t do it, and that becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. Now, I’m not of the school of thought that I can do anything! is true. I’m a realist, not a pie-in-the-sky optimist. I’ve always known there were things that as a shorter-than-average female, I just couldn’t do. With my math abilities, I can’t be an engineer. It’s just not possible. I can be a scientist, even though others expressed doubts about that.
And that’s the other thing: I may be an idealist, but I’m also stubborn. Tell me you can’t and I’ll show you that yes, I can so! I can take no for an answer – I’ve done so twice from people I loved, who would have had to put up with me doing something I wanted a lot, but I wasn’t willing to defy them and possibly lay a big burden on them just to get what I wanted (if you’re curious, my Dad when I was considering the military after my divorce. He could potentially have wound up taking care of my kids were I deployed. The other was my First Reader when I wanted to try and cram in a dual degree). But when I was told that I was too stupid to be a scientist, I leaned into the work and made it through with a degree. I’m working in a lab, and I’ll continue on with more education later – if for no other reason than I want to.
There’s dark things in the world. I have walked through the valley of shadows. But I prefer to see the beauty around me, the potential in people I meet, and to have hope, always.