I set out to kill my optimist this time last year.
I proclaimed that replacing him with my realist would help me deal more evenly with life’s failures and disappointments. I told myself that my realist would help me accept life as it is, rather than always striving for something better. I tried to run my optimist through the ringer. Life, at times, enthusiastically tried to participate in his demise.
There was one problem.
I’m an optimist. I’m a believer that I can create better versions of myself through intentional choice. If there’s something at my core, it is this belief.
This year almost defeated me. Knocked me to my knees on a regular basis. It sometimes brought out the absolute worst in me. It left me so punch drunk, I regularly found myself on a therapist’s couch trying to make sense of an ever-shifting foundation. But my optimist kept pulling me back up, each time stronger and more determined.
Along the way, my optimist changed. He stopped painting specific pictures on a shapeless horizon. He stopped setting distant goals, timelines to meet, or objectives to accomplish.
I realized that the only thing I could control was who I was going to be in the face of both opportunity and challenge.
I started asking myself a simple question.
When I get to the other side of this, and look back at myself, who will I see?
Will I see someone who reacted out of pain or fear, or someone that I can be proud of? Will I see the convoluted face of anger, or will I see love, patience and understanding? Will I see the man, the human, that I aspire to be?
My optimist no longer concerns himself with the what and where. He now has the faith to believe that if I stay true to who I am and want to be, the what and where will work out on the other side.