2 years ago
Anonym
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Unpopular Opinion: The Value of Pessimism

My ship may be sinking, but at least I'm at the helm.

"Stay positive."
"Keep going."
"It's all good."
Not really...
When I wake up in the morning and notice the fresh sunlight hitting my face, my first instinct is to turn over, and curse the sun for daring to shine on me. I wake up. Feet hit the floor, and I let out an almost robotic sigh.
This happens every day. I'm not sure if it's the depression, the fear of being in a foreign land...or just natural human detachment, but I think it's a combination...all of that...and the fact that I've always been a pessimist.
Pessimism is defined as " a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future."
But I see it as the exact opposite.
I used to have a sunny disposition, before reality started to set in and I lost myself. When I woke up for school in 2011, senior year of high school, my future looked bright. It had this shiny, new finish...college on the horizon. Instead I was met with depression, sickness, addiction...and the loss of everything I loved. I was thrown headfirst off the lookout of my shiny new ship, and into the tumultuous sea, doomed to sink to the bottom of my ocean.
Things got hard in college, and I started using self-destructive measures to get myself to feel something. Once I started to feel anything but apathy, my first instinct was pessimism.
Lots of people will say that a negative outlook counterproductive, and that it breeds destruction, but I'll argue that it's positivity that's more dangerous. When we have faith and believe that everything will work out...we end up doomed. We get too cocky or too comfortable, and when things (will) go wrong, we're surprised...and that makes the fall from grace even more devastating.
Life never got easy for me. I never felt comfortable in my own skin, more like a stranger. I felt as if all of the positive messages I was receiving were lies...people were trying to deceive me. So I adopted this feeling of fear, that people were out to get me, and that I could never be enough.
I never was handed a damn thing. And when people go through with things based on faith alone...with no real reason to be optimistic, pessimism acts like an anchor to the bottom of the ocean, where your ship will indefinitely be beached if you don't snap out of it...at least that's what traditional optimists think.
But I think pessimism is the wind in the sail...the thing that will lift the anchor and make the good ship sail on.

You see, pessimism is useful, and I'll prove it to you.

Most people construct themselves around the idea that "things could be worse." And they live their lives by that standard.

"Well...I didn't make enough money to rent that new apartment...but hey! Things could be worse!"
"Eh...this relationship didn't work out, but I'm staying positive. Someone will come along."
"I'm not moving up at work, but I'll just keep going...it'll be okay."

NO.

People who find themselves in this state of perpetual optimism end up getting stuck.

Seriously, look around. If you meet someone who is totally laid back, happy-go-lucky and doesn't worry or care about anything for fear of "being negative" you'll see a person who is doomed. Utterly doomed, to stay in that state forever.

Ambition and negativity go hand in hand...because in order to change, you have to look for the things that are wrong, and have a need to fix them.

People who appear "pessimistic" seem to have a more realistic world outlook, they appear a bit more jaded and unpleasant, but underneath they're really just sensitive to failure.
I'm only speaking for myself here, because my sensitivity has gotten me into so much trouble...that I would be sitting here typing until the end of time trying to document it.
But honestly, pessimism is a shield put up by people like me, it keeps us grounded, sane. It lowers our expectations and enables us to be more calm and collected. Pessimism may appear to be counterproductive, an anchor to tether the good ship to the sea floor, but for me...it's wind in the sail.
Optimists often ride on an unsinkable ship, casting looks at those struggling on the ones floating against the current. That changes when you're the one sinking.

I use the reality of doom and gloom, the sadness and the failure to help navigate away from the rocks...because I see them coming way before anyone else. I know the negative outcome, therefore I can avoid it.

My pessimism allows me to push myself...to identify what's wrong and have the guts to try and fix it. Maybe, with time I'll learn how to balance that notion with happiness, but there are other factors at work like anxiety, depression and a host of other internal issues that I'm sure you're all familiar with.

If we take the time to find the value in our natural state....be it pessimism or optimism than we can see our good ships sailing on course rather than into the storm.

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5 comments
you can't always choose your circumstances but you can choose your response. all life's struggles make you bitter or better..the best thing is you get to choose..
I think there needs to be a balance. I know for me though, I do say, "things can be worse" because it actually has been for me. I acknowledge that there aren't things working out, but I also remind myself to count my blessings. It's like, yeah, shit sucks....but I have a roof over my head, I have food in my fridge, I have a sister who loves me, I am not deathly ill, I am not dating my fucked up ex-boyfriend anymore. That sorta thing lol. It works for me.
@TessStevens - Someone once asked me how I was doing. I replied, "I'm not 6 feet under yet, soooo..." The response I received was a totally unsolicited lecture from a stranger about, "elevating my standards". Yeah, whatever... I believe that it is the perpetual motion of my life in peril that keeps me changing, fixing, evolving. It may not be all unicorns and strawberry fields but my pessimism and grit alone propel me forward. It's completely okay to swim against the sea of the extrovert ideal that tell us everything HAS TO be SUNSHINE. And I argue that those of us who wade through the muck of the mire of life are more determined. More steadfast. And our appreciation for the tiniest beauties in life far suprasses that of those who perpetually see it, just because...
@JPBenedetto YES You put this so perfectly. The struggle is what propels us, I am so on board with that. And yeah it's irritating when people try to tell you how to live, how to see life. Because embracing all sides is so essential. You go girl. The good ship sails on! :)