This I Believe

Kevin - Berwyn, Pennsylvania
Entered on June 3, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I believe in being a realist; that is, I believe in being honest with myself.

Now, to be honest, according to friends and family, my view of being a realist is no more than being a reconstituted pessimist. While I would agree from the perspective of an eternal “optimist” such a “pessimist” characterization may appear to be reasonable, I also believe that standing at the heights of unsupported optimism and looking down, tends to distort one’s perspective.

Don’t get me wrong: I always strive to do my absolute best at everything I do. I most definitely have goals, dreams and desires, many of which “realistically” I will never attain. That fact, however, does not stop me from trying, dreaming and hoping. Such dreams though, are undertaken from a realistic point of view.

For example, I am blessed to be able to run marathons. I run one or two marathons each year, and I pretty consistently run around 3 hours and 40 minutes. I would absolutely love to run under 3 hours. Even though I will continue to strive to improve each day that I run, and hopefully I will continue to improve, realistically I will never run a sub – 3 hour marathon. I am getting too old, too quickly, and my knees have loudly advised me that they simply will not go that fast. To believe otherwise is foolish, and maybe stupid to even try. So, I continue to train, continue to try my best, and continue to try to improve my times, but always from a realistic point of view.

I learned the hard way, at a young age, that at least for me, being a realist was simply less frustrating, and less painful, than having a baseless “optimistic” viewpoint. Growing up, most everyone tells you to believe that you can do anything, and “if you believe it, it will happen.” I understood that, and it made sense. However, no matter how hard, or how much I believed I was good enough to play football, there was something called “physics” that made it abundantly clear, that I was not destined to be a football player. Indeed, when at a very young age, I did play Pop Warner football, I was trampled by more than one opponent who typically outweighed me by about 40 pounds (or about 50% of my then soaking wet body weight). I distinctly remember how startlingly clear (and painful) it became that I was not going to be a football player – no matter how much I believed I could be.

So, I would much rather have a realistic view of what I can do, and what I can expect to accomplish, and what is likely to occur, as compared to planning for, or worse yet expecting an unreasonable result, and then being sorely disappointed with failure.

So, with all of my dreams, hopes and aspirations, I will continue to be true, be honest, and mostly be real, to myself, and to everyone else around me.