“You’re so happy all the time. I mean you smile all the time!”
I couldn’t even begin to fathom how much this phrase has been said to me my whole life. Before I get into the thick of it, I truthfully do smile A LOT. Sometimes I think my face just naturally stretches that way. However, my smile tricks many people into thinking that I am happy all the time, when in truth I fall more towards the opposite track. I am harder on myself than anyone else could ever be, so I tend to really chastise myself. I fall into the rut of “I can do better” or “I’m not good enough for [x] or able to be [Y].” Especially as a millennial straight out of college, thousands of questions about my life’s direction can really knock the confidence out of me. Not exactly the mindset that most people think of when thinking of an optimist.
So then, were does my optimism stem from if it doesn’t come from some magical state of happiness? My optimism stems not from any naive or blind happiness, but from trying to rise to hopefulness over the despair that naturally life will provide once in a while (or perhaps many times). In truth, I credit most of my optimistic outlook to keeping faith in my life. As I’ve lived my life, in the moments that I feel most down on myself and feel that I’m trapped in a never-ending darkness, a glimmer of hope still exists for me. This glimmer represents faith that JUST MAYBE times will get better, even if I must wander in the dark for awhile.
My optimism is not blind and naïve, but one borne of hopefulness that the tough times will get better. In tougher times, sometimes I think of the story of Jesus Christ during this Lent season. The people chose Barabbas over Jesus, placed a crown of thorns on his head, and got nailed to a cross. At a time when ALL hope should have been lost, Jesus still held onto a thread of hope. He even managed to keep love for those who hurt him. Jesus knew God’s plan with a long-term goal of salvation for all mortal beings, and chose to believe that things would work out eventually.
For me, I stay optimistic because what else can I do? When I am down, I look to prayer. In prayer I hear the voice of God, speaking to me through both mind and soul that eventually life will pick up and get better. No matter what I feel in the moment, hope will always exist. How can I not help but take comfort in this fact? Though my optimism doesn’t always mean things will turn out the way I want them too, it guarantees that I will stay strong and survive. Hope is one of the greatest attributed gifted to me by both faith and religion.
Thus, not only am I proud to be an optimist, I am thankful, for I could not be me without it.