I’m a pessimist. I always have been. It’s one of my charming qualities that my mom blames completely on my father like so many other things. “You’re such a pessimist just like your father.” “Fae, why do have to be a lone wolf like your father?” “Your father was not good at math either.” “I’m so sorry that you inherited your father’s cheeks.” “Fae, your eyes are like cat’s eyes. They’re so . . . ugly. You must have got them from your father.” (A note: My mom is completely tactless, something I did inherit from her. She didn’t start critiquing my looks until after I was comfortable in my body. And my dad has light brown eyes, so the only person I could have inherited my blue/green/grey/everything-in-between eyes is from her.)
As you might have guessed, my mother viewed pessimism as a weakness. When one sees all the problems to every situation or idea, one naturally becomes melancholy. Something that I suffered from too, which my mother also disapproved of. No matter how I tried to seeing the world without the problems, I just couldn’t. The road blocks, the water hazards, the broken bridges glared out at me. It didn’t mean that those things stopped me, but I couldn’t ignore them. And I couldn’t change my pessimism. It was just a part of me.
So a few weeks ago in parenting class.
Teacher: What other things do you not want your children to learn from you?
Me: I don’t want my boys to be pessimistic like me.
Teacher: Why not?
Me: I was just raised that it was a negative outlook on life. My boys would be happier without it.
Teacher: Oh, Fae. Pessimism isn’t good or bad. It’s a temperament. Optimists walk through the world with their arms wide open. Pessimists walk through the world more guarded with more weapons. It’s a different view of the world. You’re ready for the fight, and that’s not a bad thing.
Tears sprung to my eyes. For the first time, someone had shown me pessimism in a good light. I had a feeling I could use pessimism to my advantage, taking the step further down the view to see the solutions after the problem. But I had spent my life viewing the problem of viewing the problems, and I never was able to make any of it work. I could not stop seeing the problems. I could smile fiercely in the face of those problems and then I could look for the plethora of solutions to solve those problems.
I remembered what my best friend told me on one of my dark days. “Fae, you don’t get it. You’re not the victim. You never were. You are the hero, the warrior, fighting with a sword and shield. The best part is you’ll win because not only will you never give up but you’re fighting for your kids.”
So that’s me, ready for the fight. I have the weapons. I just have to learn to use them better.