Being a Realist

*This is my opinion alone. You are welcome to your own view and approach to life.*

*As I was writing this I realized that it would take a volume of books to explain and really breakdown and define and truly study states of mind and outlooks on life, etc.. So I must point out that this, obviously, is just the skin and bones of my personal stance.*

There are pessimists, optimists, and realists. There are people all in between as well, but for simplicity’s sake, I’ll just stick to the three. I am a realist although I haven’t always thought of myself that way. I was already (just barely) an adult when I learned of this definition and way of thinking. Although I had always thought this way, I now had a word to put to it.

Optimism: hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. – Merriam-Webster dictionary

Pessimism: a tendency to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen; a lack of hope or confidence in the future. – Merriam-Webster dictionary

Realism:  the attitude or practice of accepting a situation as it is and being prepared to deal with it accordingly. – Merriam-Webster dictionary

Most people only think along the lines of optimism and pessimism. It’s so much easier to just have two all black and all white options, right? But life doesn’t, nor has it ever, been that way. Life is so much more complex.

Growing up I lived in a typical family and was surrounded by typical teachers, friends, doctors, etc.. The lesson and advice was to “always look on the bright side”.

But I never could quite get that; it’s just not a realistic way to live. Especially when you live with chronic illness.

It is not bad to think about the bad side, to know that bad things can and do happen. The healthy thing to do is to understand that life can go any way it darn well pleases. Yes, we can steer it toward the outcome we want, but it is not guaranteed to end up there. Being just as aware and expectant of the good as well as the bad outcomes will save you a lot of pain, especially if things don’t go the way you’d hoped and planned.

How many times I’ve witnessed (or been) the optimist so very crushed and heartbroken because the thing they hoped, worked for, and expected to happen went the other direction. If only they had been a realist they wouldn’t have been quite so hurt by it.

OK, OK, I am exaggerating there a bit. I have no quiff with optimists; optimism is a good thing (in moderation), certainly better than pessimism. I just prefer realism because, well, it’s more truthful, it’s the realistic way to be.

Many, not all, optimists are afraid of reality. They hide from even considering the bad things that are just as likely to happen as the good.

All I’m saying here is one should never dwell on one side more than the other, no matter what side it is. Realism is not pessimism, nor is it optimism, because it is realizing that both good and bad can and do happen, and not dwelling on one or the other more. Being prepared for both is a good thing, obviously.

I am not implying that optimists and pessimists won’t and don’t stay aware of the other, but they do dwell too much on one and do their damnedest to avoid and ignore the other.

Just doesn’t sound reasonable to me. It’s like setting yourself up for heartache (optimism) or living in constant heartache (pessimism).

Many realists actually call themselves optimists. “Hope for the best but plan for the worst” is not optimism, it is realism.

I have had people imply to me that they think I can be quite pessimistic. No, I am realistic. Just because one does not fear thinking about and talking about their negative thoughts and feelings and experiences doesn’t make them a pessimist. If the people who think this of me actually spent the time to get to know me, they’d realize I am quite happy and well balanced in my good/bad thoughts/feelings and outlook on life. I am not (no one is) perfect, but I strive to be balanced.

Sometimes good things happen, just as often bad things happen. This is life, why not be prepared for, and accept, both?

I’m just a realistic individual who accepts things as they are.

What do you consider yourself to be of the three, or others even?



2 thoughts on “Being a Realist”

  1. I don’t know Tamara, I think I pretty much get what I expect. Of course, sometimes I am disappointed, but by and large, if I expect a bad outcome, I usually get it and if I expect a good one, I usually get that. Oh and if I expect no outcome? I usually get that as well.


  2. I believe I am a little of all…some days I am very optimistic, others pessimistic, and quite often realistic. One thing I do know…realism is and can be overwhelming at times if I sit and dwell on all the issues, and long term side affects… of being a diabetic. Good post…new follower.


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