Optimism, friend or foe?

Hi online world, it’s been a while. I obviously haven’t been blogging once a week like I hoped this year, but things have a been hectic. Exams are nearly over though, so that will be some reprieve. I’m breaking my rule of not posting when I’m feeling angry or upset; but I feel unduly entitled to the occasional break down. [This is not much of a breakdown, words have a way of abstracting away how I feel, which I suppose is calming and productive.]

Misunderstanding is a strange beast. It is completely fictional, dreamt up in the realm of someone else’s reality but yet it has such incredible potential to alter and affect our shared realities. We all live with it, and often times it is harmless – a supportive friend who informs our subjective opinions about the world around us, sometimes taking the name Optimism. In this form, it lends you a pair of rose-tinted glasses that colours the world a lovely, innocent tone. The only danger here is losing sight of the world underneath that pleasant tinge, and inevitably Disillusion will pay you a visit, sometimes with good news and other times with bad.

It is when Disappointment comes knocking that Misunderstanding begins to wreak havoc. Beginning first in your mind, it casts a dark cloud of doubt over the memories you once shared with Happiness. Then it proceeds to plant seeds of insecurity in all of your relationships, jeopardising the solace you once sought in them. You begin to question whether everything you have ever been told was ever true or real, or if the people around you were just pretending to like you out of pity. Now, Misunderstanding is not one to admit mistakes, so in the most patronising manner it can muster up, it informs you that it had in fact intentionally misled you this entire time and belittles you for so naively believing the words of its alter-ego Optimism. It crushes the last flicker of faith you held in the belief that people can be sincere or that they truly loved or cared for you. It then proceeds morph into its other, much more menacing alter-ego, Cynicism, who purports to protect you from any future disappointments. However, it neglects to warn you that the protection is not a custom tailored shield but rather a one-size-fits-all. In order to protect yourself from ever being burnt, it requires you never enjoy the warmth of sunlight.

The strangest thing is all of this sound like a reasonable proposal when Disappointment has taken an axe to your heart; in fact, it sounds like the best deal you’ll ever get. Misunderstanding will chime in again with an ‘I told you so, but you were too stupid to listen,” amplifying the hurt you feel. Nothing like the quiet, gingerly manner in which it allows you to celebrate little joys, “there’s always room to do better, so don’t get too excited,” it will convince you there is nothing worst than the disappointment you have just experienced. And so, many of us take up this offer, though always with the intention of returning to the days of optimism, if the world would simply prove Cynicism wrong.

Then one day, we realise that Optimism is never coming back on his own, we will never again return to the days of “childlike innocence,” because we are now in fact adults, who once broken cannot be fixed. Having shielded the brilliant colours of light from ever reaching our hearts, we begin to believe that the world is really as black and white as Misunderstanding would have us believe. We begin to build our lives around this binary reality. We enter a world where misunderstandings guide our lives, where we must fight to have our version of the world triumph over all others to feel validated. Our greatest fear then becomes the shattering of our cynical reality. Once again Misunderstanding holds our hopes and dreams in the palm of its hand, having only replaced Optimism with Cynicism.

Misunderstanding is a scary beast indeed. It is the last friend you will ever make, the manipulative, calculating, insecure friend, or maybe even lover, who demands all your time and convinces you need no one else. It is the kind of relationship you should have left long ago but have not quite found the courage to do so – there is an odd sense of comfort, which accompanies the familiar starkness of black and white. But, make no mistake, Cynicism is no friend of yours, and one should be careful not to let it assume the alias of Realism and convince you that you have opened yours eyes. That is never the case and one should always fight to kept Misunderstandings in all its forms from taking over one’s life, because reality is always ours to make.

It’s incredibly difficult for me to accept when people don’t think in the same way as me. I don’t mean if they don’t agree with the same things, or hold the same opinions but simply that we seem always to be on a different wavelength. I think a better way to describe thing feeling is that I hate misunderstandings, and they upset me particularly because I am acutely aware of them. From witnessing my parents divorce, and living through the negative energy from both sides, I suppose I developed a sensitivity for misunderstandings. I began to understand that reality and what is right or wrong is always subjective, that my parents ‘reality’ of what happened were not only totally conflicting but vasty different to what I saw. I can never see the frustrations and sorrows that led my mother to develop postnatal depression, and for my parents’ marriage to develop irreconcilable differences shortly after my younger sister was born. However, the only thing that allowed me to forgive my parents for what they did to my childhood, or rather didn’t do, was to accept that they loved me despite being unable to be the bigger person in their own marriage. I never begrudge them their egos because I too hate having mine trampled or needing to put it aside. I like to think that I am trying hard, slowly, to find ways to see clearly beyond misunderstandings, to feel for people’s intent, and to trust in their love regardless of how well they can show it. Having said that, I still find it incredibly difficult to admit that I am wrong, to accept that perhaps I may have misunderstood something.

Today I just wanted to write to remind myself that I am human, and intrinsically flawed. I want also to apologise to anyone who has been hurt by my flaws. I can only hope that you blindly believe that it is always unintentional, even though the only proof I can offer is my heart and my word.


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