“I’m not a pessimist, I’m a realist.” How many times have you heard that one? Far too many time I’ll guess. Often spouted by the most negative and cynical of people, this sentence is seen as a blanket licence to be as pessimistic as humanly possible and for you to expect people to nod along with you because, as you so eloquently put it, you’re a “realist”. Baloney.
I mean, I could natter on for hours about glasses, water levels, is it full, is it empty, and who’s been nabbing my drink but it really makes little difference. Some people are pessimists and some are optimists. It’s just that nobody is a realist.
Let’s face it people, we seem to have lost the actual meanings of the words optimist and pessimist. Realist really isn’t an option unless you’re God or Chuck Norris. Both an optimist and a pessimist will look at the facts and interpret them in a positive or a negative light respectively. For some reason, we’ve come to think that if you’re an optimist you just think that everything’s going to turn out fine with sunshine, roses and fairytale love; and if you’re a pessimist you think that we’re all going to die. Slowly.
Reluctant to appear as if we ignore the cold hard facts, we claim to be realists: people who sagely weigh up the pros and cons and come to a real decision based upon empirical truth.
The problem is, we’re dealing with hypotheticals here. Situations where it could conceivably go either way. Nobody actually knows what’s going to happen you know. A realist cannot exist because you cannot know what the outcome is going to be in every situation.
Pessimist is not a dirty word – they’re just people who analyse facts as much as the next person but who generally come to more negative conclusions than optimists. Optimist also isn’t a synonym for idiot. They don’t all wear rose tinted 3D glasses and ignore past experiences. Pessimists can come to positive conclusions and optimists can come to negative conclusions as well – it’s more of a scale than a binary on/off happy/suicidal thing.
If you sincerely hold to the idea that you’re a realist, I put it to you that you’re a delusional pessimist who is ashamed to admit that you have a rather gloomy and cynical outlook on the world.
Myself? I’m not sure which I am. I’d like to be an optimist but judging by the way I rant about things which annoy me, I’d hazard a guess that I’m a pessimist with a penchant for cynicism, sarcasm and rage. Ah well. Just stay away from my sodding glass and let me drink it all myself.
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