Balancing realism and optimism

Angsty at 20 :P (on the streets of L.A.)
Happy at 26.
When I was younger, I'd run around, and, loudly and proudly claim, I'm a realist!  Not a pessimist as negativity silently dripped from the words leaving my mouth.

I often took issue with those overly-cheerful, chipper, happy types.  You know the onnnees...Everyone did (or does).  We all knew someone in school, at work, on our soccer team, who always, always had a knack for finding the silver lining or the rainbow on a deary day, that you sometimes just wanted to punch them right in the face and say, aren't you ever pissed off? Everything is not always unicorns and daffodils, lady (or dude).

I was the one pissed off.  And I don't know what about—100 different things, I guess—some of which had happened years ago (it's amazing what the brain is capable of) and were now completely irrelevant.  I was in my late teens and early 20s, what the hell did I know?

I just didn't buy it, that someone could be that joyful all.the.time.  It wasn't real, so I labeled those people as fake or slap-happy or naive.  Little did I know, conducting yourself in such a way was a learned discipline and was far from anything naive.  It was a higher way of living, a way of courage, humility, and bravery.

I still am a realist.  I will never sugar-coat a situation unworthy of sugar-coating.  There are some situations that are simply bad and need to be recognized as such.  Neither will I lie to you about a past situation telling you how wonderful it was when in reality it was truly awful.  Here's what I will say, though.  Instead of holding a scowl and letting out a, it was total bullshit, I'll take pause, and tell you I learned from it.  I would have rather not gone through it, but I grew.  I now know what to do (or not to do).  I'm a realist whose words now beam with optimism and hope.  And that doesn't make me slap-happy, or fake, or naive.  It makes me Tough with a capital "T".

I can go through something or look at something and say, that isn't right or that wasn't right, speak my mind (or when unnecessary not speak my mind) and let it be.  In growing this discipline of not taking my mood out on other people, and not bringing people down and not always stewing in the negative, I've learned if you're overly and externally "tough", you're internally weak.  You may appear to be courageous, or humble or brave, but you're not.  You're overcompensating for the severe lack of all three.

(Have I had too much therapy?)

I of course reflect on topics like this now that I have kids.  (It always comes back to them.)  I want them to see a Tough Mom, not a mom who screams at all those who she disagrees with or is annoyed with.  I want them to see a mom who listens and then speaks.  I want them to see a mom who is willing to tread in uncomfortable waters and smiles while doing so.  I want them to see a mom who carries herself with a demeanor of gratitude (as every human should, really).  I want to show them what being tough, what being strong, what being "right" means.  And, more often than not, as much as we don't like it, that means shutting up, not saying a word, and extending a joyful smile (see above).


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