I am not naturally an optimistic person.
Rather, I tend to lean towards pessimism and realism. So keep that in mind and know that what you are about to read comes from someone who is the first to tell others to let something be hard and let yourself be hurt and angry while not being sorry about it.
Recently, I have been recognizing the power in my perspective in certain areas of my life and where I am currently. I am living in Richmond, Virginia when I was supposed to have an internship in up-state New York. Instead, I moved into the real world with an in-between job that I hope does not continue past the summer.
Just graduating college, I think back on the past four years and for the most part only see pain, hurt, and anger. My parents divorced and with that came twenty years of baggage and trauma. And some aspects of the Christian organization I entered into in high school left me hurt and angry by the end of college. In all of this, I felt I lost a sense of who I am and felt controlled by the people and systems around me.
When the relationship I was in this year ended, I wondered, like I had wondered many times before, if my life was going to continue in this cycle of hurt, anger, and pain. It is just in the past few days that my perspective on this is beginning to change.
Because I am not someone who naturally looks at the silver-lining in circumstances, I have to actively choose between helpful and hurtful thoughts throughout my day. I have no problem thinking about all the ways I am not doing well in life, but talking about the ways I am doing well is hard and vulnerable for me.
When I was at work this morning, I could not stop thinking about everything I disliked in my life right now and the ways I wanted areas to be different, both physically and mentally. I did not let myself get too carried away with these thoughts like I normally do, because I was testing out if I could stop these thoughts before they consumed me and if the trajectory of my day would change too. Usually I would have just deemed today a bad day and moved on, but I wanted to see if changing my perspective would actually work. To no one’s surprise, it did.
When I say change my perspective though, I do not mean tell myself some fluffy statements that are not true to get me though the day. Instead, I made a list in my mind of the things I knew to be true of my current situation, some hard facts and some exciting, and I chose to actively moved forward.
Once I told myself what I knew was true, I was able to declutter my thoughts of so many harmful perspectives and be productive in the rest of my day.
This is also true for myself when looking back on the past four years. When I look back and see a cycle of pain, right behind that is a cycle of healing. What am I going to choose to focus on? If it was not for these years of pain, I would not be the person I am today and the person I am becoming. I would not have the confidence to share my thoughts, struggles, and raw emotions with those around me. I would not be open to learning and growing in the ways I am. I would not be able to know what I want and what I do not want in many aspects of my life moving forward.
Recognizing this, I see that the power is in our perspective and the strength is in what we choose to act on.