“Take the risk of optimism,” Simon Sinek. I spent most of my life depressed and anxious and then anxious and depressed. I would swing from, “I can’t believe I did that,” to “Why didn’t I do that?” in the course of a day and always regret any move I made. I found flaw with everything I did if it wasn’t perfect and I wouldn’t move unless I could do it perfectly. I thought that was the goal in life. The reality is that it kept me stuck in the exact same spot, running around showing people how perfect I was as they all moved forward in their lives. You can’t master one level of your life and expect it to take you to the top. The lonelier I got running my circle, the more the weight of proving myself buried me into the rut of that path, the more difficult it was to tell myself I had the ability to step out and move forward myself: I just needed to let go of the need to prove and I had to learn to believe that things could get better.
Like most of these stories, it starts the same way: I was tired of pretty much everything and I was terrified of sending the rest of my life like that. I didn’t know how to make myself feel good because feeling good was never a priority; being good and doing what others needed is what mattered. I witnessed my mother descend into a level of anger so deep that her foundation of good nearly evaporated. She seethed anger all with a smile on her face. She resented anyone who did something with their lives. She sat on the sidelines and became their cheerleader, even their stepping stone while they created the life they wanted and she stood still. And I felt myself doing exactly the same thing. That’s when I realized this wasn’t Cinderella where some hero was going to give me everything I wanted for sacrificing my life for those who never asked: I offered it willingly, hoping they would return the favor. If I gave it away, I could take it back.
That became the initial goal: taking my life back. In order to do that I needed to be the person I wanted to be. I had to learn to be my own hero and in order to do THAT, I needed to put away the weight of what I thought I was supposed to do. I needed to understand that I had the ability and the responsibility to create what I wanted. And as simple as it is, I needed to learn to feel good. Feeling good for me started with understanding that things could be different. Embracing my personal power and relishing in the creation of it—not the perfecting of it. Seeing what I was able to do made me hopeful for what I could do next. THAT is optimism.
Optimism is a powerful place to work from. It allows you to see possibilities you’ve blocked from yourself with old beliefs. What we believe isn’t always true, yet the things we tell ourselves often become our beliefs. While it is easy to fall into the patterns of negative thoughts, the positive thoughts are what carry us. Often we feel like being optimistic is a pipe dream when in reality, it sets us on a path toward something greater than what we even thought possible.