The Confession of a Serial 'Realist'...

I used to be serial "realist" -- a term often used by we pessimists who preferred not to be called as such. I'd lock proverbial doors before I even thought about going through them. I was an Opportunity Assassin™, and boy, you can imagine how popular I must have been at parties...

It was almost second nature to find the fault or negative in any given situation. I argued to myself that I wasn't focused on the bad, but rather, bringing a kind of balance to the equation with so many around me seemingly only looking at the good. I felt I was adding a voice of 'reason' or 'realism' by wantonly poking holes, sinking ships, and raining on parades. The worst of it came when looking to the future, and how I could somehow justify against anything without ever actually doing any of it.

When all we see is the worst in people or situations, it's no surprise that we tend to avoid them. Our base and natural instinct is to keep ourselves safe, so why would we engage in hazardous situations, or with negative people, when the outcome to us is perceived to be harmful? Whilst a thread of truth runs through this line of thinking (I mean, being shot out of a cannon is dangerous, after all), the largest realization I came to was that I could justify inaction simply by focusing on everything that could potentially go wrong:

I might get sick trying that new food... Nope, not going to that restaurant!

I'll definitely get made fun of at that party... Looks like sweats and board games to me!

There's no way I'm in her league... Sure not going to ask her out!

I don't have all the qualifications listed... Not even going to bother applying for that job!

I'm not sure what point it was in my life -- probably after numerous proverbial beatings over the head by those closest to me -- that I began to think differently about things, but I eventually started to see a shift. Reflecting on my point of view, perhaps it was some egotistical need to be 'right' whilst others were acting 'wrong' in only looking at the positive. In fact, the belief that others only looked at the positive was one of the hardest to break; I thought that their focus on the positive meant that they weren't even considering possible negative outcomes, when in reality they actually had, and simply chose to look at the positive.

I found choice to be the most important concept in this case. I could choose to look at a situation from both sides. The Universe didn't need me to play the de facto role of "negativity balancer", and teach all those pesky positivists a thing or two. I discovered that my own fears, insecurities, and self-doubts were at the root, and my inner voice twisted them into negative arguments against opportunities to keep me small, closed-off, and narrow-minded -- all under the cloak of being "safe".

We all play the "What if?" game when looking at future opportunities or options. I've learned that while I'm able to generate 15 negative "What if?" outcomes, I'm also capable of generating 15 positive ones as well. I don't run through life thinking just positive thoughts, riding unicorns, and sliding down rainbows -- that would be taking the opposite line of thinking, which is equally as dangerous. Rather, I choose to be open to opportunities, and push myself to explore them when they arise. Some work out, and some don't; some are positive experiences, and others negative. The difference is that I'm now willing to step through those proverbial doors -- and actually see what happens on the other side -- rather than simply lock them and throw away the key from the start.

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