The Optimist

Mental Health

I’ve always considered my unwavering optimism to be something of a superpower (along with my strangely perceptive sense of smell–not necessarily something to brag about, though it has saved my life in a dive bar or two) but the older I get the harder it is to maintain. The harder it is to believe, to hope, and even worse to dream. My dreams are everything to me. They’re not just desires but promises, promises I’ve made to myself and promises I always knew I’d keep because no one ever told me otherwise. I never doubted myself. I never had any reason to. But when you’re a teenager that feeling of “immortality” is sort of unshakeable. Fast forward a few years though and not only do you realize how very very wrong you’ve been about death and life and success and happiness and responsibility and fear and the future but you also realize how very wrong you’ve been about yourself. One day you will wake up and realize that you don’t know you. Or at least not anymore. And one day you will be terrified.

Today I am terrified. Because today I have decided to stop living in the anticipation of my dreams, I have decided to do the grown-up thing and be responsible. And it sucks. Because it’s unfamiliar. Because it’s kind of scary. I don’t want to be responsible. I don’t want to have to choose between working and living. I don’t want to have to choose anything at all if it isn’t writing. But today I’ve seen the first glimpse of the adult I’m becoming and that adult knows that passion can only take you so far and that passion at the expense of responsibility is pointless and selfish and wrong. And as much as I want to maintain my signature optimism, I can’t help but feel like it’s just another remnant from my childhood that I’ll eventually have to shed for good. Or maybe it’ll be stripped away. Stolen. And not all at once, but even worse, in pieces. In small, almost imperceptible pieces that I won’t even realize I’ve lost until it’s too late.

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