One Day at a Time - Chapter 4
Day-4: On Blind Optimism, Pessimism and Realism
During my time in Sheffield, I was called by many the most optimistic person in the room. It was in March 2020 when a national lockdown was announced in the UK. A few of my dorm-mates returned to their homes within the UK while the rest left the country; all of them vacated their rooms. As pretty as my face might be, it wouldn’t have hurt to look at a new face. I usually kept myself engaged with writing my dissertation, singing, watching movies and what not. I caught up with my friends over a video call once in a while - “ A month and a half is not enough for us to write our dissertation! The assignment deadlines are jam-packed and inconvenient! The resources are not enough! I can’t keep up with this! Ani, you are the academic representative, do something!”
When you take a look at the laundry list of tasks, you tend to experience something that I like to call premature exhaustion. Premature exhaustion gives way to negative thoughts and it’s all downhill from there. Those statements without a doubt are negative but does that reflect my friends’ pessimism? No but it will eventually lead to it - I offered to organize a meeting with the department to address these issues. The moment I decided to do that, most of the cohort outrightly dismissed the idea saying that our voices would fall on deaf ears, now that’s pessimism. Let’s talk about the famous illustration of half a glass of water. Optimism is to say that the glass is half full and pessimism is to say that it is half empty. Is it really that simple? No. Ignoring the fact that the glass is not completely full and to be satisfied with the glass being half full is Blind optimism. There is a hair-thin line between pessimism and realism. To point out that the glass is half empty is not pessimistic, it is as real as it gets and is extremely important. Being a realist will allow you to take actions towards filling the glass up i.e. improvement. So, here’s the thing- An optimist looks at the available water (or resources) and begins to work with it. He/she also acknowledges that the glass is half empty (issue/problem) and finds a way around it (addressing the issue). A pessimist ignores the water in hand and looks at the blank empty space above it. This is not only a bad start but also injects a bad attitude to work with. Be optimistic but never fail to acknowledge and address the issues that are real regardless of how negative they might be.
Oh yes, about the meeting I organized- I spoke to the higher-ups for two hours and we received an email first thing the following morning that read “Deadline Extended by 15 days”, maybe not so deaf at all.
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