For the longest time, I’ve considered myself cynical, jaded and skeptical, in just about every way. I accept that politicians will screw us over, the weather will suck every time I have an outdoor event planned, and if a cat pukes on the floor, I will find it with my bare feet. That’s just the way life goes.
But recently, I’ve come to realized that I am a pie-eyed optimist. At least compared to some folks.
Take a simple compliment, such as, “You look great, did you lose weight?” That does not mean, “You were looking really bovine for a while there!” It just means you look nice. Accept it. Thank them. Even if you’ve gained weight. Just take the frickin’ compliment.
On the flip side, another common complaint is when people, especially those close to you, don’t notice any changes you’ve made to yourself. Or if someone says, “Oh, you don’t need to lose weight!” Some folks think it’s a form of sabotage. But, for the most part, friends and family just plain don’t judge us the way we judge ourselves. They see the total package, which includes the rose-colored glasses we wear when we look at someone we care about. It’s the same thing that makes us not notice when our husband’s hairline starts to thin, or when our parents start to age.
For instance, my mental image of my Dad was with his pitch black hair and silver sideburns. Very distinguished. Very handsome. One year for Christmas, someone got him one of those joke baseball hats with the fake ponytail. The ponytail was grey. I thought, “That’s not going to match Dad’s hair!” But it did. An exact match. I never noticed that his hair wasn’t black anymore. It was a “holy shit!” moment.
Maybe I’m just oblivious, but I didn’t notice when my niece lost weight for her wedding, either. It was a dramatic change, going from a size 12 to a size 4. But she was always gorgeous to me, and I wasn’t scrutinizing the size of her ass to say whether it was bigger or smaller or the same size. She was just My Niece. Beautiful. Smart. Funny. Kind. No matter what size she wore.
Following Facebook and news coverage during the flooding showed even more how much people want to believe the worst. “Why is no one talking about the break in the levee in my town?!” Because there wasn’t a break in the levee. “The news is lying to us! It’s a conspiracy!” No, it’s not. They’re finding this stuff out a second before they broadcast it. “I spoke to someone who spoke to someone who spoke to someone who overheard a fireman say that the flood walls are going to break in six hours!” I heard the same thing, ten hours prior. The wall was still holding. People didn’t want to believe what engineering and flood experts were telling them, but they’d believe some anonymous rumor started on the interwebs.
If the worst is going to happen, it will happen. Hand-ringing won’t prevent it. Why not choose a little bit of peace? Why not take things at face value? Why not assume the best instead of the worst? Given the choice between being miserable now or later, I’ll choose later.