Are You a Pessimist or an Optimist?

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I’m trying to write a post about why happy people annoy me (isn’t it awful?), and I’ve been describing myself as a pessimist.

I’ve been rethinking that. True, I default to depression and a glass-is-half-full mindset. I’m the girl who said, as an objective fact during a class discussion, that this world was a messed up, horrible place. My professor’s jaw dropped. “For someone who’s just about to get married,” he said, “that’s a surprising thing to say.”

I suppose I did say it with a bitterness too intense for a twenty-one-year-old to feel.

But at the same time, I think, deep down, that I am a hopeful person. Eventually, I pick myself up again and keep fighting, even if I don’t think it’ll make a difference. I get really passionate about truth and goodness and beauty, and really upset when they seem to be losing traction in this, quote, “messed up, horrible place.”

It occurred to me that maybe my melancholy doesn’t come from pessimism, but from idealism. I hope for the best, work for perfection, demand the ideal, and end up crushed when I, life, or my fellow human beings fail to deliver. Just because something has always been and always will be has never stopped me from raging against it to my reflection in the bathroom mirror.

That idealism, combined with a joy-sucking empathy of others’ pain, makes for one gloomy Bailey — but that’s not technically pessimism.

What about you? Would you describe yourself as a pessimist, an optimist, or something off the spectrum?

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14 thoughts on “Are You a Pessimist or an Optimist?

  1. Abigail

    Happy people annoy me too. As my older sister once sagely put it, “There’s a difference between being an optimist and being delusional.” This post could have been written about me, because even though I differ in details of experience, I feel much the same. I used to be extremely pessimistic when I was younger, but this was related to anxiety and health problems that I was dealing with at the time, and I don’t define my outlook based on that stage. Ultimately, I think that I am a Christian realist. I am aware of sin and death and human depravity, and I am also aware of goodness, truth, beauty, and love. I don’t expect one to unfailingly win out over the other in this life, but I know that someday “everything sad will come untrue” and God will complete his work of redeeming the world.

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  2. Justine

    I would describe myself as almost your twin lol. Happy people annoy me too – but usually only until I’ve heard their stories and then I often admire them for being happy with everything they’ve gone through.

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  3. Shaun Jex

    I vacillate between the two wildly. Somehow I manage to be intensely hopeful and skeptical at the same time. Which of the two I lean toward tends to be affected by how much time and how recently I’ve been reading the news…

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  4. Rebekah

    I strive for, in the words of Winston Churchill (ones that have inspired me since high school), for “a generous and comprehending outlook upon the human story with all its sadness and with all its unquenchable hope.” In reality, it’s hard to perceive the whole. Either I’m astonished at how cruel and terrible the world is or I’m amazed at how much glory and beauty are in the smallest things.

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  5. Rebekah

    I would say I’m an optimist; I generally have a hopeful outlook. But perky people can really annoy me if I’m in a bad mood.

    I feel you on the “joy-sucking empathy of others’ pain”, though! (Haha, see what I did there? :P)

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  6. Jasmine Ruigrok

    A hopeful optimist ever saddened by her crushed idealism pretty much sums me up too. To help soften this though, I try to look forward to heaven where God will surpass even my most optimistic ideals. Why do we get sad when idealism shatters? Because the ideal exists. We just can’t see it yet.

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