Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog post trying to brainwash you into the positivity camp. Fellow pessimists, hear me out!
I’d be lying to you if I said I was the most positive person in the world. I’ve got a few blog posts drafted and ready up my sleeves, simply awaiting images, but looking at the titles lined up, they all seem wildly pessimistic. And I’m like, hey, hold on a minute, that’s not what I’m about. I’m usually an insanely happy person. If you’ve ever met me IRL, I’m always chirpy (unless it’s first thing in the morning, and if that’s the case then what are you doing in my bed?!) and whenever I’ve worked/ freelanced/ spent any time with proper adults who I didn’t previously know, their feedback is generally along the lines of “Sophie is such a positive person to be around!” Most of the time, I feel like Marion, everyone’s favourite four year old, marching into the room with enough swagger to intimidate Kanye West and zero fucks if my Dad is doing an important interview on the BBC – so why oh why do I seem to be such a pessimistic writer?
We’re living in this current culture of positive thinking and meditation and spirulina smoothies, which are all good things, but often it feels like the overlying message we’re told is to eschew and replace our negative thoughts with positive ones of gratitude in order be happier and successful in life. Positivity patrolling is something I’ve called BS on in the past, saying how it’s important to embrace negative emotions to really truly feel the most of positive ones too. We’re pressurised to be our most happiest, best, fabulous selves ever, when a lot of the time that’s really not how it feels. Thats why I like to try keep it real – even just a little bit – to show readers that yes, life is wonderful and glamorous but you have ups and downs.
But I read something really interesting on Man Repeller a few days ago about finding out whether you’re a pessimist or optimist based on the way you explain situations when things happen to you. Lost? Read on. And take the little test yourself to find out which camp you’re in…
So say if something bad happens, like you get dumped, don’t get the job you interviewed for, get a bad grade at uni – what do you do? Do you blame it on yourself or blame it on some other external factor that you have no control over?
Similarly, if something good happens – say you get the job, or nail a good grade, or get asked out by the hot guy you’ve been eye-fucking at the coffee shop – do you give yourself an internal high five and the credit for succeeding, or do you believe it was simply just luck/ a fluke/ coincidental?
So if you blame external things when something bad happens and you pat yourself on the back for successes – congrats! You’re an optimist!
And if you blame yourself when things go wrong, and count your successes as flukes then hello to you, fellow pessimist.
I’m a blame-internaliser and I have a problem with imposter syndrome, and despite my chirpy, friendly outlook, I’m a huge worrier and when it comes to myself, I usually assume the worst of situations.
So I’m going to try and match my internal outlook to my external one by taking a few small steps which involves no fake smiling, and no forcing myself to be happy when I’d rather wallow in self pity for a few sacred minutes to get it out of my system (we all know how cathartic watching a weepy film is – it’s just a bit like that!) Instead:
I’m going to stop blaming myself when things go wrong, employing a Shaggy-worthy It Wasn’t Me attitude to all super shitty things that happen – to myself, anyway. I can’t start fucking shit up though, like breaking my boyfriends playstation, and claiming “it wasn’t me” – no matter how much I may want to – as I’m not sure how well that one will sit.
I’m going to get rid of negative self-talk, so no more “oh I didn’t deserve to win that award or be asked to that blogger dinner” or self-deprecating crap. No getting bashful at compliments on my makeup saying I look shit when I actually feel like Beyonce. I talk myself down all of the time, so I’m going to start patting myself on the back instead.
Stop dwelling on failures – one of the best and most liberating pieces of advice was what a manager at a restaurant I worked at whilst at university gave to me: “shit happens” – and it’s true! So true, it’s almost laughable. Shit DOES happen. And those two words are so small that it makes even the most ridiculously annoying things feel trivial.
But I won’t stop writing about the negative things – because, we’re all human, and we all feel it, and if writing about it ends up helping anyone who reads it in some way, well that’s a positive for me.
I mean, it is spring after all
Photography by Rebecca Spencer