Friday, 28 January 2011

The Bright Side

At school I was once chastised by a 'friend' for being too positive. Yes. Me. 'You always see the good in everything. It's so annoying.' Was it? Well, mum had taught me to 'count my blessings' and 'smile when the going got tough.' Clich├ęs featured heavily.

Still, seeing the good in people, life, in the world: what was wrong with that? In response I was nonchalant; a shrug of shoulders and the straightening of my school tie. But underneath my air of indifference, I ached. That one remark carved itself on me like an unwanted scar.

Unnerved, I thought about it for days. Sure, I saw the good in things. Championed happy endings. Appreciated silver linings. Tread in dog poo and I'd thank the stars I was wearing shoes.

Whenever something bad was said, I'd defend. In my eyes, there was a reason why that boy was so angry that he threw chairs across the classroom, or why that girl's uniform was never clean. I may not have know what it was but there was always a bigger picture. There was always a beginning - and middle - to everyone's story.

And yes, I had a penchant for smiling at strangers; the old lady at the bus stop, the pram-pushing mother on the street. Even if my smile could not elicit one in return, it did not matter. They were in a hurry; they weren't in the mood; it was a grey area. Understood.

Even so, I didn't think these things were noticeably a nuisance. But yesterday, as I voiced my anger on the news, mum sighed: 'You should look on the bright side a bit more often.' I wasn't sure how one could 'look on the bright side' of someone doing only two years for murder, but at that moment the point was shelved. Like the new pain of an old injury, memory stirred.

Looking back, to that moment outside the food hall, I understand. Confronted by peers, my thirteen year old self was afraid. Defend the foundations of my personality? As if: courage was just a word in the dictionary. My 'annoying' optimism was wrong in the eyes of my so-called friend. And so my ability to believe in the unbelievable, to treat people as I found them, was bludgeoned out of me with one cruel and unnecessary remark.

Well, I certainly thought so at the time. As a result, through choice or circumstance, I allowed it to change me. Like a guilty secret, I hid that side of me for so long it started to fade. But it never disappeared. It was always underneath the surface.

Life often makes it hard to be optimistic. Repeated knocks and obstacles only serve to dampen the spirit and lose faith. Black and white, ignore the grey. It feels easier to accept defeat and wallow in the gloom. I've done that. We all do. It's the norm. But sometimes it doesn't hurt to take a walk on the bright side. In fact, it feels quite good...


  1. So true. I've had similar comments about being too positive, seeing the best, and the worst was being too nice. What you give out, you get back. Being positive brings rewards. I have proof. I found a fiver today on the way to the chippy, and it paid for my fish and chips.

  2. It is very easy to be pessimistic but to be an optimistic person which sees the bright side of life is a bit difficult and it is not that popular that's why there are so many people who can't understand a person who is optimistic in life. Anyway, thanks for the insight, eh.

  3. It's actually important to keep an optimistic mind toward life, as it can be, like you said, difficult and full of obstacles. I think being pessimistic is just allowing yourself be drown in sorrow. That won't accomplish anything. My friends said that I said "look at the bright side" too much. They didn't stop me.

  4. Debbie: Ha ha i like your way of thinking.

    brewmarianne: I honestly can't work out whether or not you're being facetious. Are you taking the piss or not?! I don't know. I'm usually a good judge. If you're not, then i apologise. But if you are, what was the point?

    Sarah: Thanks for stopping by. I'm all for being optimistic. But i do tend to veer towards the 'glass half empty' outlook. I'm trying to get better, i really am. I wish i had the power of hindsight or, perhaps, wisdom of age to tell my 'friend' to stuff it! :)

  5. This is very true. I can see why being optimistic all the time can be annoyinh, mind. Sometimes we just want people to agree with us and say yes it does suck sometimes. And i also think being positive 100% of the time is impossible. Nice post.

  6. Hey Kate. Yes, I can see why being optimistic ALL the time can be quite tiresome. I agree. Truth is, I wasn't always optimistic 100% of the time. I don't believe anyone to be capable of that. If they are, they're not human! Thanks for stopping by. :)

  7. You know Lou, optimism is something that's 'out of stock' these days. And when it's seen, it's tagged 'priceless'. You have a priceless possession. Keep that up.
    Keep writing. Keep inspiring.


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