My posts are usually pretty optimistic. Lately, I’ve been cruising on this vibe of positivity and not everyone around me seems to like or understand it. When I say things like, “it’s not a problem but a challenge” or “it’s all about the perspective”, I either get these rolling eye looks or comments like “you’re not being realistic” or “you’re not being real”. It is saddening to me to think that people can see optimism as something fake. Because optimism is very real. It is as real as pessimism is real. Because that’s life. That’s being human. Shit happens. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns. You have your occasional rainbow and that’s it. Sometimes it’s just clouds and rain. But isn’t that exactly what makes us appreciate the rainbows?
Honestly, I’m pretty optimistic these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. My default mode is pessimist. And at times, I can be an incredibly negative person. Glass half empty and not even good whisky kind of person. And that’s okay. Because I don’t think we should have to be happy all the time. You don’t always have to put a positive spin on it. Grieve, hurt, hate things. But love more because you know hate. Be thankful because you’ve seen adversity. Appreciate the good because of the bad.
No one can tell you when to feel happy and when to feel sad. Don’t neglect your negative emotions. There is no such thing. Emotions are emotions. Cry, be angry, be sad if that’s how you feel. But don’t get stuck in a rot. Sometimes it’s hard to let go of what’s making you sad, because it used to be the thing that made you happy. You don’t have to put a veil on unhappy feelings. Feelings are there to be felt and to do something with. Having said that, don’t neglect your feelings of happiness either just because people around you don’t accept or recognize it. If that’s how you feel, you should be able to express yourself. Don’t dim your light for anyone.
Life is a landscape full of crests, hillslopes and valleys. If your life is on a crest right now, that’s great, enjoy. But you will probably go through some valleys in the future. Everyone experiences highs and lows, some more extreme than others. But without the lows there are no highs and vice versa. Feelings are a heterogenous landscape, there are so many emotions that are all there for a reason. Lean into those emotions, be conscious of them. Be happy, be sad, but most importantly, be you.
I don’t want to be a pessimist. Nor do I want to be an optimist. I want to be real, authentic. But also, not hide my happiness because some people don’t understand what terrain type I am on in life. Maybe we should judge people, emotions and feelings a little less. Just feel the feels.
Eva van der Graaf. Born in The Netherlands. Raised in Africa. MSc Animal Science. Freelance Writer and Translator. Owner of WritingBy. Hippie at Heart.