Professional Self-Critic

I’m walking down the hall, absentmindedly going about my business, lost in thought. I have to smile at the irony of it all; I despise cliches, but I am a walking, talking cliche. An angsty youth, pessimistically pondering the future, hiding away a seed of hope from himself, pretending he is numb to it all. I could be the poster-child for the emo movement.

The thought that meanders through my mind tonight is one of hope and optimism. I don’t like to be hopeful or optimistic at all; I like to consider myself a realist. I have almost convinced myself that I see the world for what it is…almost.

I continue to walk the halls aimlessly, thinking about this.

I have told myself over and over that I view the world I live in through such a dark lens because that’s the way it really is. Nothing good happens, misfortune and sour outcomes should be expected at all times. I’ve pompously pumped myself up by thinking that I am a critic because I am smarter and wiser than most. My ego tells me that I am sarcastic and critical because I am intelligent enough to be that way; the truth of the matter is I am simply too weak to be optimistic.

I am afraid; I’m silently terrified of being disappointed. I’m scared of building my hopes up and seeing them dashed in an instant, like a casserole dish as it crashes onto the kitchen floor.

I’m not high-minded, I’m a coward. I am not strong enough to stand in the face of disappointment and hope for a better outcome next time; I fall back into a snarling, bleak outlook, and refuse to believe that something better can come along. I am weak, I am afraid, and I am ashamed. I am embarrassed by my own fragility, and I attempt to disguise it as cynicism and snark.

I mock the hopeful because I am so crippled by fear that I cannot summon the ounce of hopefulness I have stashed away for even a second. I cannot allow it to see even a second of daylight, because I know that the moment I unleash it, I will have to acknowledge the things I hope for. What happens when I allow myself to be optimistic? What happens when I hope for the best? The larger part of my mind says that is when all hope will be lost, and my inner cynic will be proven right. And yet, there is a small voice, barely more than a whisper, that says, “But what if he’s wrong? What if there is room for hopeful optimism? What if your lack of hope is the very reason hopeful things don’t happen?”

It’s hard work, being hopeful. A seed can’t grow in the dark. I know that. Yet, here I am, drawing the shades closed once again, throwing that sliver of optimism back into a box that I keep stashed away in the back of the closet. I am still far too fearful of being so exposed. Any shrink would call this a defense mechanism. I see it for what it is; I ignore it, yes, but I know what it really is. It is pure, unadulterated cowardice. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be brave enough to be optimistic, but I won’t get my hopes up.

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