I was always a glass half empty girl.
I never shared my ideas because I was afraid somebody would steal them, although nobody ever did. It was either that or worrying about looking like a fool in front of the entire class. So I just never talked.
Then came the matter of making friends.
I didn’t make any for a good portion of my life. Why? Because experience had taught me that nobody wanted to be my friend. See, I was this socially awkward kid with the worst (read: non-existent) social skills, which automatically made me a loser and if anybody ever expressed interest, I assumed they wanted something and would soon stab me in the back. So I kept to myself.
But it gets worse.
All this worrying meant I was very mistrustful of the few friends I had and as a result, I lost all of them except two who were busy living their own lives, and I became a recluse. Yep, a shut in. The queen of all the losers. This then triggered the worst bout of depression I ever had.
So even though I was always a glass half empty kind of girl, that glass became completely empty once that happened.
Was this rock bottom? Probably. Did I blame everyone for every misfortune? You betcha.
Was this how I imagined what my life would be? Absolutely not! Nine year old Benita imagined a million dollar publishing contract and lots of friends and a lifetime of travelling, not being cooped up at home dealing with a mental illness nobody wants to talk about. Geez, if I’d told my nine year old self this was what she’d amount to, she’d probably cry.
Something had to change, so I did something radical:
I ditched my pessimistic ways for something stupid called optimism.
Whaaaat? What’s this optimism you speak of?
It’s the thing that saved my life.
But it wasn’t easy, mind you.
Rewiring my thought patterns from the extreme pessimism I was so familiar with it became my best friend to the completely uncertain optimism—so uncertain that it was barely an acquaintance, more like a tinder date you slept with once then shoved out the door in shame—was a long and uncomfortable process. So long that a couple of my classmates got married and a couple more had kids, and so uncomfortable I cried more than I ever did in my entire life.
But it was worth it.
No longer was life going to kick me in the metaphorical balls, like it did for so long. No longer was I going to be a victim of circumstance, like I had for so much of my life. No longer was I going to be afraid. And more importantly, I was finally in control of my life. How empowering!
I only regret that I didn’t start earlier.
You’re probably wondering: gee that sounds wonderful, but how can I go from hating my life to being in control of it? Is that even possible? Can I really go from end-of-the-world pessimism to sunshine-and-rainbows-and-pink-fluffy-unicorns optimism? And I’m here to tell you that yes, you absolutely can!
All you have to do is start.
Start small. Start slow. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is deciding you want to do this right now. Not tomorrow. Not two weeks later. Right now.
The next step is believing you’ll be okay no matter what. Because you will. When you’ve hit bottom there’s nowhere to go but up and you know what? You’re more resilient than you think. Write it down, repeat it to yourself, internalise it. You will be okay no matter what.
Then you’ll have to be okay with change, because everything’s constantly changing and nothing stays the same forever.
Let me tell you a secret: the majority of humans hate change. I know change is scary. Uncertainty is scary. Not knowing what’s going to happen tomorrow or even 20 years from now is scary. But it’s the only way we evolve, which leads me to an even bigger secret:
How your life folds out is determined by how you react to change.
Do you reject it? Do you carry on with your usual routine hoping things will go back to normal? Newsflash: it won’t. Or do you roll with it? Make the best of it? The latter builds resilience while the former breeds bitterness, and I’m guessing you’re over being bitter if you’re reading this post.
Now, I know this is big step to take, so I’m going to share with you one little thing I do that gets the ball rolling, and that is starting each day afresh. That means not letting your mood from the previous day carry over into the new one. In fact, this is a good place to start.
If everything else seems confusing to you, start here. Just treat each day like it’s a chance to start over and soon, you’ll find yourself looking at the bright side of things like a pro! As for me?
I’m now a glass half full kind of girl.
So, to sum up:
- Start small. Start now. Start each day anew.
- You will be okay no matter what. Believe it.
- Get comfortable with change cause the universe ain’t throwing you a pity party.
- Oh, and don’t expect instant results.
Until next time,
Your friend in the trenches, the depressed duck