Optimisim, You Say?

"Optimism? It's a mania for insisting everything is great when, really, we're all wretched." - Candide

Monday, May 17, 2010

Confession #1: How I Got Here

You may recognize me from somewhere.

And then again, you may not.

This will actually be my third attempt at setting up a blog. Different though they were, both blogs presented me with the same three dilemmas. The first: neither of them were about my entire life. (One was about my life as an amateur athlete; the other, about my life outside sports.) I was either one thing or the other. I could never write about being both. I could never be comfortable with both.

The second was that I had to filter myself too much. I liked to curse. I can be opinionated. I liked to share sordid details from time to time. In periods of high drama, I was forced to censor my story so much to tell the truth while not offending that I just as well have lied about it all. And, let's not forget - the internet used to offer a certain amount of anonymity; but now, thanks to Facebook and smartphones, that is no longer the case. Employers, boyfriends, parents and baby cousins can (and will) find your blogs, social networking sites, etc., leaving no real outlet for uncensored expression.

The third and final problem with both blogs is that I got sick of hearing myself talk. Every time I’d read an entry, I’d look back and roll my eyes, embarrassed - or close my web browser muttering “bitter, party of one, your table is now available.”

So, this blog is about solving all of those problems.

But that's just a small part of it.

Voltaire’s famous satire, Candide, chronicles the adventures of a paranoid pessimist, Candide, and a persistent Pollyanna, Pangloss. Not less than 7 years ago, I was a Pangloss: everything in my life was going good, so I had no reason to be anything but optimistic. In fact, everything had gone good for me my entire life. As far back as I can remember, my grades were great, boyfriends were plentiful, jobs got consecutively more challenging and lucrative - you get the picture.

And then everything just . . . went wrong. Through a serious of events both in and out of my control, my life and my health spiraled downward. Everything from divorce to illness to joblessness to homelessness to financial ruin to cancer - basically, everyone's worst nightmares - happened to me . . . all at once. I suddenly found myself broke, sick, struggling, and incapable of maintaining any of the elements that once made my life so amazing and adventurous and positive. I became petty and sad and tired.

I became a Candide. In fact, my motto was, as Candide once told Pangloss, "Optimism is a mania for insisting everything is good when we're wretched."

The truth lies somewhere in between.

This part of my life is about trying to reconcile that dichotomy. The optimist and the pessimist; the athlete and the party girl; the responsible adult and the petty brat. I've written too many blog entries about this to count. But it's also about trying to get back that positivity, openness, sense of adventure. It's about getting healthy again, being happy again, and learning how to like myself and my life, no matter what choices or circumstances affect me.

To that end, the ultimate, absolute, final goal of this blog is to take every experience, every feeling about which I blog and make something constructive and positive of it - no matter how bleak, bitter, or dark it may seem.

Confession #1: this is not going to be easy. It's going to be the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.

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