Thursday, September 18, 2014

Pessimism Can Pay

So on the first day of of my Practicum in Grammar class this semester (yes, I'm a grammar nerd and I love that class; no shame), I ran into somebody I knew. So, obviously, I sat with him and we're now class buddies. After talking for a few minutes while waiting for our professor to show up, he realized something that he didn't mind pointing out to me.

He said, "Wow, you're kind of a pessimist. I never new that."

He said it like it was an interesting revelation, and honestly I found it kind of funny. I'm extremely self-aware--a consequence of years of self-consciousness that I've managed to mostly rid myself of. Therefore, I know that I'm a pessimist.

Actually, that's a lie. I tend to refer to myself as a realist. That glass-half-empty/full question? Normally my answer is: "'s at half?" So it's kind of passive, there. Yet I know that I mostly flip between pessimism and realism; my compromise is calling myself a realistic pessimist.

Then again, that's a lot of labels. And I typically don't like to deal with labels, but occasionally I become a bit of a self-imposed hypocrite so sue me.

Back to the story: said guy who was really surprised that I'm a pessimist then followed up with: "I mean, you're always so bubbly and happy."

It's kind of stuck in my mind (obviously, since that was about a month ago, already). And I mean, here I am thinking: well, normally I try to be in a good mood. I really do try. But at the same time, I value basic acts of honesty so if somebody asks me how I'm doing I might just reply with a bitter-toned: "Awful. Today sucks and I hate everybody."

Maybe it has to do with deliverance. Because occasionally I'll say something like the phrase above, and get a response of: "Wow, you sound really happy about that..."

The point of today's post is that pessimism isn't really a bad thing, in my opinion. Realism isn't, and neither is optimism. Personally, I think it helps me really see the world around me and channel it into my writing: if I thought everything was peachy-keen all the time then I wouldn't see much worth writing about. Being honest with myself about how I'm really feeling, or what I really think about a certain day, also helps me develop my characters; honesty is necessary to dig down deep and really figure out what's at the core of a person (regardless of the fact that my characters aren't actually honest with me most of the time; psh. Details.).

Basically, it's taken a long time to get to this point, but I'm happy with myself. I embrace my occasional bad moods and bitter statements. On days when I'm in a really bad mood, I become the ultimate sass-master. It happens. I'd be a liar if I said it didn't and frankly I've gotten too tired of trying to hide everything I've ever been feeling.

So I mean, pessimism isn't a bad thing. Not when it's totally applicable to my writing life, and not when apparently I handle and "hide" my pessimism so well. I guess. Anyway, like I said, it allows me to be totally honest with myself which, looking at where I am in life now (college) is incredibly helpful.

And I really think this can be applied in another way to novels; more importantly, to the characters in our novels. Pessimism is typically seen as a negative trait. There's actually a lot of negative traits out there. But is there a way to make them, somehow, not seem so bad? In the delivery of them, maybe?

Anyway. Those are my thoughts, at least.

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It pays to be a pessimist, and it could even be considered positive if worked just right. @Rae_Slater explains (Click to Tweet)

Pessimism doesn't have to be bad. @Rae_Slater questions whether the negative can be conceived as positive if used just right (Click to Tweet)

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