|I am guilty of being an optimist. Now, I know people like to bash on those of us who try to maintain an optimistic outlook. I’ve experienced it firsthand. The cynics of the world love to laugh at us, the silly people who think that things can and will work out. I always say things can and will work out, how they are meant to be. If you aren’t supposed to get that great new job with benefits that pays you well, there is a reason. Perhaps the company is going to fold in a month. Maybe you were just meant to do something else and didn’t get it so you would be open to the path you’re supposed to travel on.|
|I have a cynical wife (yes, we were able to marry in December, yay!) and she at least doesn’t roll her eyes at me anymore when I say that. She used to respond with something negative to put my “woo-woo” ways in their place. She calls anyone who is into talking about the universe or “everything happens for a reason” woo-woo. I get it. I am open to certain things in this world and others I am happy to support in others, but just not for myself. If you dig beneath the surface, you will realize that I am an optimist/realist. I do not walk around in some fog of happiness, thinking that the universe will just unfold and give me all of the answers. I know I have to work hard, put myself out there, and then look for the open doors that will lead to new opportunities.
As an artist, when people ask me how I got into a gallery, or a show, or anything of that nature it makes me realize how fortunate I am. Most of my connections have come from being in the right place at the right time or meeting someone through someone else. Even with that said, I am not that connected. I’m a small-time player, so to speak. This brings us back to the whole “I know I need to work hard and put myself out there” statement. I have spent my life talking myself out of taking chances. It wasn’t until after 40 that I realized that I needed to get out there an do something. I worked constantly on improving my artwork, studied, learned, practiced, tried new things and failed (not just once), and then I settled into who I am and what I am capable of.
Even now, I have yet to seriously pursue a larger gallery show. It isn’t because I don’t think I am worthy or my work isn’t up to snuff. It is because that means personally having to put myself out there to schmooze and network and such. That isn’t really me. I enjoy people and conversations, but on my terms. Perhaps you understand where I am coming from. If not, it is possible for a person to be a selectively sociable introvert. It is possible to blossom during certain social encounters and wither in others. It is possible to sabotage your own success because you do not want to have to talk with people, even if others don’t think of you that way.
I have been scoffed by others when I’ve spoken about my reluctance to enter certain social situations. People see the outgoing side of me and dismiss my claims of being uncomfortable with myself when out in public. Whatever. We are quick to label people and assign them certain criteria that they must adhere to in order to fit into that box. Not me. I do not fit into any box. I believe none of us fit into a box, yet we allow society to force us into one. It is tragic and I think it is the reason why there are so many unhappy people out there. We are not being allowed to fulfill our destiny, to discover who we really are. We are being denied true joy and happiness.
So, what does any of this have to do with my being an optimist? Or a realist? It’s all related. I could be dismissed as a woo-woo flake by labeling myself an optimist. Believe me, I’m not. I look at life from the perspective of someone who has known what it is like to hit rock bottom. I have had everything taken from me by bad people in an attempt to crush me and I have battled back from it. When I look at my day to day existence, I do not have a hard time being happy with where I am right now. I am grateful for the little things. I know how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head, food to eat, my health, people who genuinely love me, and many opportunities for good experiences in front of me.
I am optimistic because I have survived. I have lived to fight another day. Where my life goes is up to me and if my biggest concern is working on getting over my social anxiety that is keeping me from greater success, then I am one lucky duck. Yes, I am poor. Yes, I do not have a lot. But I am wealthy because I am grateful for what I do have. I know what true, unconditional love is. I am living my life on my terms and not accepting what society wants me to think or do or be. To believe that things will work out for the best, that is how I survive each day. It isn’t that I don’t get depressed or don’t sometimes find myself dwelling on the negative in the world, I do. I just give myself time to mourn and recover and then move forward. We cannot conquer the bad forces out there, but we can focus on countering it with good. Mahatma Ghandi said it best, “Be the change you wish to see in the world”. I am trying. One act of kindness at a time.