I was asking myself whether I was cynical or optimistic this last weekend, and I couldn’t decide. (I also wondered if I was indecisive, but that’s probably a different article completely.) I began to wonder if it’s possible to be both; can a person be vehemently pessimistic yet open to positivity, too? According to Walt Whitman, we contain multitudes; we can be whomever we want, and we can believe whatever we set our hearts on. I can hate humanity one day and want to make-out with the universe the next (and no, not with the help of MDMA either, although that would be nice).
Life can be unfair. But it can also be pretty awesome. Obviously describing it as such is rudimentary, but I’m not going to get into scary politics and socioeconomics right now. I think we can all agree that civilization as a whole has a lot to work on (BUMMER), yet our world is a better world than it was thirty years ago (YAY). Which lens you decide to use is entirely up to you. However, if you find yourself unsure of how you feel about everything, I'm starting to come to the conclusion that’s completely normal.
Maybe it's illogical and even ill-advised to define ourselves as solely optimistic or cynical. Perhaps adhering to one or the other, or even thinking of them as mutually exclusive ideas, is not only unrealistic, but it's ignoring the fact that the two can actually work wonderfully together. Knowing that the world is a mess and that people are the worst makes it even more important to have hope for something better being possible. It's actually a totally obvious combination.
Here are some signs that you might be living the cynical-optimist hybrid life:
1. Your future seems bleak until you finally make some coffee
Mornings are kind of gross, especially if you have a lot going on and you have no caffeine in your body. Sometimes I silently panic I will spiral into nothingness, but then I make myself a pot of coffee and this panic is replaced by creative energy, which gets converted into pop culture articles and happy e-mails with all caps.
2. When you haven’t gotten sleep, you decidedly hate humans
Combine lack of sleep with a field trip to any comment section on the Internet, and voila. You are now in the depths hell.
3. When you’ve gotten 8 ½ hours of sleep, you want to give everyone epic high-fives
The air feels monumentally crisper. Colors seem more vibrant. People are these happy entities that provide joy and oxygen and love. Hooray, people!
4. You decide not to vote because it’s not like the republic of America has a real say in anything
I mean, let’s be honest with ourselves. Who actually has the real power here?
5. You change your mind two days later, saying, “SO HELP ME GOD IF A REPUBLICAN RUNS MY COUNTRY” to your cat
You remember that you are an American and that you were given the right to vote (and as a woman, that didn’t happen very long ago!) and screw anyone who thinks they’ll get in your way. Your generation will lead this fine country someday! HOO-RAH, I say.
6. You find love disgusting
Ugh. It’s so primal. So unnecessary for an evolved human. And like, whatever. You don’t have time for that. Guys/girls suck. They’re so needy. They come with so much baggage.
7. You find love disgusting until a person asks you out on a date
Well. I guess being adored is okay, especially if this person is taking you out to eat.
8. You decide love is amazing when said person writes you a poem and gets you tickets to an Alt-J concert
NEVERMIND. Love is the best. So #blessed.
9. “What Difference Does it Make?” by The Smiths is your favorite song
Morrissey is your forever spirit animal.
10. Your second favorite song is “Anything Can Happen” by Ellie Goulding
Literally, anything could happen, okay? Just you wait, world.
11. You will become intensely interested in working out and being healthy
Your body is a temple! All these endorphins! Hooray, chemicals and sweat and protein shakes and kale!
12. Until you break down one night and eat three Whoppers to yourself, polishing off dinner with a few cigarettes
Eh. You only live once, and fuck it. It’s not like you want to live until your 80s anyway so that your future kids can just drop you off at a nursing home where you eternally crap yourself in a diaper.
13. You buy a bunch of bright nail polishes at Target
Bright nail polish, bright aura.
14. But then paint your nails black like always
Black like your soul, amirite? And, of course, you're definitely not going to apply a fresh coat of polish every Sunday afternoon, like you promised yourself you would. You'll wait until that shit is chipping into your food and looking a hot mess for 2 weeks before you consider re-painting.
15. If anyone asks you whether you’re a pessimist or optimist, you say, “I’m a realist.”
Because maybe, just maybe, that’s what we really are. The smartest of us anyway.
Images: Getty; Giphy(6)