Optimistically Pessimistic

by Katy Kappele

I’m often told that my pessimistic attitude gets me nowhere.  I disagree.  In fact, I have issues with optimism.  This morning I woke up in a very good mood, planning my day off.  I was going to get up, get my library books so I could read them before coming to school to work on the paper, then I was going to come here, get the things people were supposed to email me, and place them in the paper.  Well I got to the library, and the books weren’t there – no problem, says I.  I’ll get them later.  Well, by this point, I’m running late.  I got rear-ended on my way to school, no emails were in my inbox, and I was late.

                The point I’m trying to make is that optimism, far from being a wonderful mood-saver, is actually far more depressing than pessimism.  In my usual mood, I expect nothing.  People will be annoying and stupid, nothing will work right, and we’re going to lose the game.  In this mood, I will not be disappointed when people annoy me, nothing works right, and we lose.  In fact, I will be pleased if people don’t annoy me, nothing works right, and we lose, because it was better than I expected. 

                My friends consider me chipper and funny, not dour.  I’m a pessimist, and I love it.  Ancient Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius would have agreed with me, although he called his philosophy Stoicism.  Stoicism in the ancient Roman and Greek philosophy that states that the best that mankind can get out of life is his own internal peace and tranquility. Happiness, the Stoic argues, is too elusive a goal.  We can only control so much in life.

                Pessimism does not prevent me from getting things done.  Rather, it allows me to see what goals I can actually accomplish.  I can’t guarantee I’ll get an A (I don’t grade myself) but I can do my very best work all the time.  So instead of setting a goal to get straight A’s, I set attainable goals such as always doing my best work.

                People will annoy me, sometimes my car will break down, and the Canucks will probably lose, but that’s okay, because I expect things to be that way and I’ll be happy if they aren’t.  My optimistic friends expect people to be wonderful, the car to always work, and the Seahawks to win.  Naturally, they are frequently disappointed.  Not me. 

I hope you will take this advice to heart, but you probably won’t, I’m not counting on it.


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