Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Just Call Me Grumpy

On the one Monday I would call glorious (Labor Day of course.... it's a day off!) I was sitting at Starbucks and had a conversation about relationships. And my goodness, for a girl who isn't in a relationship- I sure have a lot to say about them!

I was saying something along the lines of how you can't put all of your eggs in one basket, and that while the person you are with should help you to be a better person, ultimately you need to be a better person for yourself and for God. Because what if something happens? And not just breaking up. But what if your significant other gets into a freak car crash? What do you do then?

My friend looked at me and said "Wow Emily, you're such a realist."

I stared at her back and shrugged my shoulders saying "No, not really."

Me? A realist? When did that happen?

My friend meant it as a compliment (I think), and it's not like I haven't been called a realist before. I've even called myself this.

If you were to go back 10 years to my high school and ask the people who knew me to describe me, I'm pretty sure "realist" wouldn't be on their list. I feel as though many of the people I went to college with wouldn't say that I am one either.

Yet... there it is.

When I ask people lately how they are and how their day is and they answer with:






I can see inside of my head a miniature version of me groan, sigh, slump her shoulders, and roll her eyes.

Or I listen to the ideals of people who are still in college about life and ministry and the dream jobs they think they are going to get when they graduate - the miniature me in my head does the same routine of groan, sigh, slumping her shoulders, and roll her eyes.

What is wrong with me????????

Not that long ago I was one of those people.

Or at least appeared to be one of those people.

The one who always had a smile on her face. Who had optimistic thoughts to share with even the most cynical of people on my college campus. Who could put a smile on anyone's face.

Now when people share about how hopeful and wonderful their life is I want to shove in their faces the harsh reality of the "real world". Which then makes me think of the old classic MTV show when it was actually somewhat decent.

When did this change happen? When did I become "Emily the Realist?"

And it's not that I'm not a happy person, or that I'm not smiling along with my friends when wonderful things happen in their lives. One of my favorite pictures from this past summer is when one of my best friends had her first dance with her husband at their wedding reception and joy is simply radiating from her face.

Yet, overly happy, peppy, optimistic, idealistic people drive me insane sometimes. It makes me feel like I'm one of the dwarfs in Snow White. (... no pun intended.) Yet - doesn't everyone? When you meet someone who just seems way too darn happy to be a real person you just want to leave the room?

Is this a bad thing? I somewhat miss "Emily the Optimist", yet I can't stand the idea either.

I feel like there needs to be a balance somewhere. We need to have ideals. If we have no ideals then we will never even attempt to try and make the world a better place. Ideals, optimism, and hope are part of what keeps us from going insane when things get rough.

But at the same time - don't we need to have a realistic view on life? Don't we need to face the reality of the so-called "real world?"

Yet I feel like people tend to go to one extreme to the other. So which one is better?

Overly optimistic? Or overly realistic?


  1. I know what you mean about the overly positive people! It just doesn't seem possible to be that happy all of the time, so it makes them seem fake and I get annoyed. I still can't figure out the balance either, or which is better.
    But I know a few people, who while not overly optimistic they have a kinda glow about them, and it doesn't matter what you're doing or what they say just being around them makes you feel good. I just haven't worked out why/how they are that way, or what it is that makes them 'glow'!!

  2. Miniature version of Emily...heh heh...

    But for serious, I think there's a difference between being realistic and being pessimistic. I think that while you're a realist, you are still your wonderful optimistic self that I love so dearly.

  3. such a complicated question. I don't know. i feel like the bible is so REALISTIC. There is no fairytale. the only story is one of sacrificial love. Not romantic, chick flick love. I mean our savior walked after being beaten literally to death, and then gave his life in the form of being nailed to the cross.

    And the believer is to understand this as REAL LOVE.

    So yeah. I guess I point more to realistic. But you can be optimistic about the realities of life I think...

    Good question girl. lol I'm pondering...



  4. I feel like you have described my life here, seriously. In high school I was super big on optimism and positive thinking. Now people are more likely to call me a realist. I think it's partly because I married someone who is a big-picture thinker and eternally over-optimistic about things, so it falls to me to be like, "OK, how exactly are you planning to get this done this week when you've got this on Monday night, this on Tuesday night, and you're out of town the rest of the week?"

    I have been trying to find this balance as well, between positive thinking and realistic thinking. I do think it's possible to be an "optimistic realist," seeing the reality of a situation while hoping for the best possible outcome.

    Gretchen Rubin has a series of posts on "Tiggers" and "Eeyores" and how being overly peppy can make other people even more insistent on being hardcore realists. I think you would find the discussions in comments there really interesting!

  5. Also, my boss is a really positive person without being overly idealistic or super peppy. He just somehow can put a positive spin on things. For example, we might have a 15-email-long conversation with a faculty member who is completely crazy and attacking us, and after all of that he'll chuckle and say, "What a character." I've tried to learn how to take that kind of approach!

  6. Me too. And you said we need a 'balance' - I think being realistic is the balance!


Share with me your thoughts! They make me smile.