This I Believe

Roxanne - Vista, California
Entered on June 1, 2007

I believe in optimism

A couple years ago, I had a friend who was extremely overweight. During her high school years, my friend was at a gas station when a couple of guys drove by shouting, “fat whale!” I often ask myself, why did they say this? For many people, it is easy to simply judge another person. I see it in everyday comments like, “that guy’s a lousy driver,” or “she’s disgusting; her hair is so greasy.” But when it comes to ourselves, we say things like, “I couldn’t afford to be late to that job interview,” or “I accidently used too much conditioner.” We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt, yet we deny it to others.

Obviously, some people really don’t deserve this benefit and some really are lousy drivers, but imagine what it would be like to go through life being the exception. When my friend, who was called a “fat whale,” was in eighth grade, she developed a thyroid problem which caused her to lose most of her energy and to gain weight. She eats barely anything, yet she is still heavy. But everyday she is faced with misjudgments. In many cases, it is hard to ever really know what happened in a situation, and so I try to refrain from passing quick judgments as much as possible; I never know when I will come across an exception.

This same bit of optimism applies to other aspects of my life. When I think of the world, I try not to think about all the things that I won’t be able to accomplish or all the people who will dislike me. Instead, I focus on all the things that I can do and the people that I care about. I figure, why worry about what I have no control over? Or according to Ziggy, why should I “complain that roses have thorns,” when I can “rejoice because thorns have roses”?

Sure, I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but what is wrong with that? I know that not everything is perfect and that there is a lot of pain in the world, but I have hope, hope that I can brighten someone’s day, hope that I can do something meaningful for this world, hope that not all people are bad, and hope that things can get better. As Helen Keller said, “No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.”