I wouldn’t really call myself an optimist, but other people do. I guess I’m good at putting up a good front. “I don’t know how you stay so positive,” one of my friends told me once. I could have laughed. Me, positive? I practically wrote the book on cynicism.
Maybe I just tell people what they want to hear, like those psychics who read tarot cards in dingy rooms that smell like incense. I’m a people pleaser. I feel like a broken record as I parrot all the same phrases to different people: “Today was bad, but tomorrow is a different day. Of course you’re going to find true love. Times may be hard, but hard times never last forever. Things will get better.”
Okay, let’s be serious. Do any of us have any idea what we’re talking about?
We all play the experts, as if our own experiences are some grand insight into the rest of the world — “This happened to me once, so it’ll probably happen to you. I made it out happy, and you will, too.” As if I can look at one generic moment in my life and apply it to all the generic moments in yours. Newsflash: it’s bullshit. I can’t promise you anything.
The truth? I don’t know if everything in the universe will just fix itself naturally. I honestly don’t know if your marriage will work out or if you’ll pass that class or if your heartbreak will disappear in a month, or a year, or ever. I don’t know if your shitty boss will ever “get what he has coming”, I don’t know if you’ll ever land your dream job, I don’t know if world peace is possible or if we’ll ever solve world hunger or if, honestly, anything will ever get better. But who wants to hear that?
We spend our lives searching for validation, for someone who can affirm that all our hopes and dreams will come true. For someone to promise us that things will be okay in the end, even if they won’t be. Maybe that’s what helps us move on from traumatic events and hold on even through the tough times — the thought that, in the end, we’ll prevail. That in the end, our struggles were worth it.
And maybe they are worth it. Who am I to say they’re not? Just like I can’t tell you things will be okay someday, I also can’t tell you that they won’t be. Isn’t that part of the beauty of life? We don’t really know where we’re going — up, down, backward or forward. It’s all a lottery, and half the fun is figuring out whether or not you’ve got the lucky numbers. We all want to believe we have them.
And nothing’s wrong with believing. Nothing’s wrong with hoping. If we have a 50-50 chance that things will turn out okay, why not bet on that? Maybe it’s better to blindly have hope than to go through life thinking, “Honestly, there’s a big chance none of this was worth it.” Because there’s a big chance all of it was worth it, too, but you’d never know if you didn’t at least have the faith that it might be. Maybe having hope is the first step toward tipping the scale in your favor.
So no, I don’t really know how your relationship is going to turn out. I don’t know if you’ll ever make it out of your hometown or if you’ll finally find that life that you love. I can’t even begin to fathom what’ll happen in my life. But you know what? Things will get better. I’d like to believe it.