I am naturally optimistic. I want to see the good. But life is big and sometimes brutal and optimism can quickly fade. What I’ve realized, however, is we all have a choice. To find a glimmer of hope in the fire. To sort through the muck and hold on to the tiniest gem of joy. To acknowledge pain and allow ourselves to be perfectly imperfect humans.
It’s so easy to get stuck. To focus on all the things that have gone wrong. That haven’t gone according to our plans. That are painful. And that can overwhelm us and make seeing any glimmer of anything feel impossible. And for good reason. There is much in life that is unfair and really, really difficult to overcome. But, maybe we aren’t meant to “overcome” those things. Perhaps, instead, we must carry them and grow WITH them. So we can become more empathetic, more loving, more authentic in this overstimulated world filled with so much that really doesn’t matter.
It isn’t always an easy choice. In fact, I think it is added pressure to tell ourselves that our appropriate sadness over very real struggles can be flippantly cast aside if only we’d focus on the positive. And I don’t mean shore up our feelings. Of course, we have to feel. We HAVE to feel and process to grow. Holding the weight of big losses in life is brave… and exhausting. Not confronting them only pushes down what will lash out eventually. Because it is still there; it will always be there. We have to learn to make peace with imperfection and unfairness and struggle and sadness. To give ourselves g r a c e.
I’m learning. Always learning. It hurts like hell to grapple with our experiences and the complicated emotions that come with them. But it is so powerful when I remind myself of the choice I have in it all. I can choose to avoid, to numb, to take a break from the hard emotional work (and sometimes I do). And I can choose to focus on all the struggle and the things that hurt (and sometimes I do). But I notice it now. I see how toxic it feels. How it manifests in other ways. How quickly one can get lost in the dark. By reminding myself that I am actually in control of how I choose to deal with my life, I am free from the weight of what I will carry always. I can hold the sadness without becoming bitter.
I am choosing to be positive. And to be authentic about what is hard. They are not contradictory. They are me.