Real is as real does.
“You probably think your cup is half empty, don’t you?”
That was said to me in January, when I was at a friend’s apartment celebrating her birthday.
The comment transpired somehow because after receiving a beverage from the speaker, he also tried to put straws in my cup. And I freaked out. Unbeknownst to him, I have a mild (okay, stronger than mild) phobia of germs, and I am not comfortable with putting my mouth on a straw handled by someone else. So I got my own straws. There was some intermittent conversation, but eventually the above accusation was made – in jest, but as an accusation I receive on a rather regular basis, I had a ready response.
“I’m not an optimist, but I’m not a pessimist either. I’m a realist.” And I truly believe that, then and now. “And my cup is only one third empty,” I said, holding it up to demonstrate.
My mother often tells me not to think so negatively about things. That my attitude going in will have an effect on the result coming out. But I don’t consider my thinking to be negative. I consider it to be realistic. And I live in the real world – why would I ever want to think about anything in any other terms than reality?
My father says this: “There is no such thing as a pleasantly surprised optimist.” So why would I ever want to be an optimist? I like being pleasantly surprised, thank you very much.
This real world I live in is not black and white. Not being an optimist doesn’t automatically make me a pessimist. I don’t buy into the “set your expectations low and you won’t be disappointed” kind of negative attitude. In fact, I set very high expectations. For myself and for others. Expectations that are often not met. Just because I set those expectations with the caveat of “these may never be reached” in the back of my mind doesn’t mean I set them pessimistically. I set them realistically.
I am not Scrooge. I don’t limp around muttering bah humbug under my breath. (And I definitely don’t count my money like him – the germ phobia, remember? I can’t touch money without itching to wash my hands.) But I’m no Tiny Tim, either. And God bless us, everyone! Like, really? Religious connotations notwithstanding, I just don’t believe there is any one or any thing responsible for blessing everyone. And I don’t think it’s realistic to expect there to be.
Theology and spirituality aside – another post for another day – the fact is that I don’t expect everything to go well. I expect everything to go, because I am a person who makes sure of that, but I don’t necessarily expect – regardless of my best efforts to ensure it – everything to go my way. Is this negative? I don’t think it is. Is it positive? I don’t necessarily think it is that, either.
It just is.