According to Google/Oxford languages :
An OPTIMIST is a person who tends to be hopeful and confident about the future or the success of something.
“only an eternal optimist could expect success”
Merriam-Webster says that a REALIST is a person who recognizes what is real or possible in a particular situation : one who accepts and deals with things as they really are.
One would think that the two could not possibly go together – especially when considering harsh realities – how could there still be hope?
Apparently they do!
A couple of years ago a friend came to me for advice. She chose to ask me because she wanted ‘the dream’. She was seeking a purely optimistic perspective – ‘of course it will work! Go for it! You’ll be a great success!’
She relied on the fact that I am always an encouragement, and always hopeful. She relied on my positive energy.
She probably should not have led with, ”I want to ask you about something, because I know I can trust you to be honest!”
This is not to say that I am dishonest in my encouragement or hopefulness.
Repeating the words of a very good friend, again, ”We interpret things from where we are. One person, using their window to the world will see it/you as this, and another will view it/you completely differently.’’
My ‘window of being an encouragement’ is predominantly based on, ”be who you needed when you were younger”. And… I’ll add… who I need in my life now as well.
I find that for me personally, my need for encouragement from others usually appears at the point where I have already heard enough reality. It comes at a time where I’ve already received input into something, sometimes from people who weren’t even asked to provide input 😛 , and it’s all just been so negative… to the point that it actually limits my potential in unrelated areas because it starts to affect my mindset in general – for example : While I see realistically that ‘those people’ are right, and it won’t work, their voices have been so loud and ‘so much’ that I start feeling that nothing will work.
And I find myself seeking encouragement in other areas, just to remind me that ‘one failure’ is not ‘total failure’. That I’ve still got this 😉 – just without ‘that’.
More often than not, the people who turn to me for encouragement seem to have reached that exact same point. They’ve been slammed with so much negativity that they just desperately want to hear something positive! And, to be honest, if I can find nothing positive about whatever it is that they are asking, or struggling with…. I’ll admit it : I deflect. I try to distract from their reality, to remind them of the goodness that still exists.
I am probably wrong.
But in my personal experience, I have found that the result is usually this : the problem/reality still exists, and is still devastating, but they find an extra ounce of strength… and as small as it is, there is a definite increase in their ability to cope.
MY personal experiences and findings are probably a psychologists nightmare! 😛
Back to my friend….
She had specifically triggered the honesty in me… not the deflection. I owed it to her to be realistic. My response was hesitant – I carefully considered each word before I spoke it!
And afterwards we were in tears – with laughter!!!
She taught me something important that day! I learned that it is possible to be an Optimistic Realist!
That the two really can be combined!
I choose to put the word ‘optimistic’ first though, because I definitely lean more towards it…
Despite some of my realities, and despite knowing that the arguments some make that ‘it is impossible’ are true,
”Hope Springs Eternal” in my heart! For better, or for worse.
And I was reminded the other day that this has always been a part of ‘who I am’. The Facebook Memory that reminded me made me smile, and cry.
I smiled because I needed that reminder so desperately, at a time when my reality was overwhelming me.
And I cried because I miss this particular friend so very much – I lost her to cancer.
I am not saying that being the way I am is an entirely good thing 😛
And over the years, many have tried to change this part of me – and I am well aware of ‘what a bad quality it can be’, because they have told me so! On numerous occasions! Ha!
But personally? From my window? It keeps me strong – in the face of harsh realities, it is what pulls me out of bed in the morning. So it really can’t be all that bad for me 😉
So… if you need a little bit of ‘deflected encouragement’… hit me up… I’m your girl 😉
I’ll even do it honestly and not deflect, if you so wish… but I’ll have to talk slowly 😛 😉
Thank you for reading,