Talk It Out: Pessimism vs Optimism

Pessimists more prepared for life
By Savannah Wingo

Pessimism is not necessarily as negative as it is popularly portrayed—proper utilization of the outlook can actually help individuals cope with the hardships of life.

Adopting a less rose-tinted perspective can help students to weather the most disastrous of life’s experiences.

Let us face the truth—the world is a dark place. For those who are born with a silver spoon, good looks, inherent talents or other blessings, it may be hard to see why anyone would view life with a little less optimism. But for most, the world is not a sunny place full of opportunity and goodness.  For most, life is a struggle, full of obstacles and challenges. Seeing the world as it is is not fatalistic, but realistic.

Students need to realize there are people and things in life waiting to take them down. Adopting a pessimistic outlook is not encouraged in our society, but it can help students realize dangers before they happen. Especially in the U.S., which statistically is coming to favor the down and out less, students need to be aware of the reality around them.

I am not saying students should always expect the worst, but at the least they should be aware and prepared. Pessimism is not staying inside on a cloudy day, it is having the common sense to bring an umbrella. Sure, students can choose to believe it will not rain and go outside anyway, but when it starts to pour, pessimists will be dry while optimists may find their bright spirits severely dampened.

Pessimism has become a taboo in a society looking to blind the majority to the fact they are getting the raw end of the deal, while giving the blessed minority an excuse for success which was determined at birth. Students need to open their eyes. The silver lining sought after by optimists is, more often than not, no more than a gilded farce.


Optimists get most out of life
By Imani McGarrell

Living life with an optimistic point of view is not always easy but ultimately provides a better outlook for students.

Optimists are often perceived as having unrealistic expectations of life. However, optimism does not equate to watching life through rose-colored glasses. Choosing to see the glass as half-full is not a hallucination, but a deliberate perspective shift.

The world is full of horrible and depressing things, true, but it is full of wonderful ones as well. Focusing only on the negative adds to the dark nature of life without leaving room for the light to shine through. If the world is a cloudy day, pessimism is staying inside because it might rain. Optimism is leaving the house and getting errands done because it might not.

Being optimistic does not mean forcing oneself to be constantly cheery while ignoring negative aspects of life. For example, this weekend I met a Holocaust survivor. Beginning at age of 10, he was put in several different concentration camps. During that time, his entire family was killed. That man was one of the most optimistic people I have ever met despite all of the hate and horror he witnessed.

When asked how he kept his spirits from plummeting during those horrible times, he said being in the face of so much anger and unreasonable hatred only made him believe that much more in showing love to people. He came to believe that the goodness in humanity must be out there somewhere.

Optimism is not delusion—it is looking in the face of darkness and choosing to see light. Finding the silver lining in a bad situation can help people suffering from anxiety and depression cope with life. People have control over the outcome of their lives. Ultimately, everyone sees what he or she wants to in life. If students only choose to see the light, that is what will be presented to them.