There is something out there better for you.

It’s not a no, it’s a not yet.

It could be worse.

One door closes so another one can open.

These are just a couple of the phrases that used to drive me completely mad when I was going through something tough.

I used to believe that people who saw silver linings were just born with this really energetic sunny outlook on the world.  A sunny outlook that I didn’t get.

I also used to really try and help myself in this experience by sitting around binge watching The Kardashians- while eating cool ranch Doritos. I’d think… Why can’t I be that happy? Why can’t I have the things I want right now? Like if I was a Kardashian I think I’d like my life more. I once had a dream that the Kardashians were my sisters. They came to my middle school soccer game and sat in the stands with all the normal folk and everything. When I woke up I was legitimately upset.

I was upset with the world and the cards I’d been dealt- or rather the ones I wasn’t dealt.

I truly thought happy people were just given a better hand than me… But it’s really not about the cards you have in your hand- its about how you use them.  And these people I was comparing myself to weren’t just happy- they were optimistic.

Optimistic people know how to play their cards. While I was binge watching E! those annoying optimistic people were out doing something about the things in their lives that mattered.

So what is optimism? I define optimism as:

The choice to visualize goodness. Optimism is being brave enough to muster hope. And then hoping.

A couple months ago I sat with someone going through a break up and she looked at me and said, something along the lines of, I don’t want to find hope again. She told me she didn’t want to believe she could have the things she desired- and that things would one day work out.

I looked at her puzzled, what do you mean? Isn’t that what we all want? Hope… something to hold onto so we don’t get sucked into the pits when life doesn’t feel so good?

We talked for awhile about this and she told me she was tired of hoping. She talked about the exhaustion she felt but more than that she talked about the shame that came with her hope- when things didn’t end up going as she wanted.

I asked her how shame fit in with hope and she said- it’s almost like I feel stupid or naïve that I could have the things that I long for. This felt familiar.

I thought about this conversation more than normal. I thought about the shame I used to feel too. When I didn’t get the job,  I felt rejected by a guy, or received feedback I wasn’t expecting.

Yesterday I got caught in a conversation with someone who I am training at CycleBar to be an instructor at our new studio. We started to talk about where our lives were and how we got here. She just went through an experience where she changed the direction of her life completely and I am currently in doing something professionally I never actually thought was possible.  I told her I used to look at people who got their dream jobs right out of college and married by 23 and think, man they are so lucky. But today- I think we are both lucky. I am lucky I got really lost in college. I am lucky that when I quit the job I thought I hated I hated my next job more. I am lucky that they guy I wanted to marry two years ago dumped me.  I am lucky that I have had 29 years to mess shit up and gain experience that allows me to actually have something to write about.

The shame I used to feel from rejection hasn’t magically turned into luck though- it has taken a lot of reevaluating, pushing negative automatic reactions, and PMA (which you can read about here).

Just like I used to think happy people were born with a special part I used to think hope was just something we cling to in order for us to feel better. I don’t look at hope like that anymore. Hope, which is connected to optimism, is work too.

Hope is mustering up the courage to see past the right now and into your one day.

It all works together- you have to have hope to be optimistic. And you have to be willing to put in effort to have hope. Some of my bitterness towards positive people use to come from a place of they have it easier than me.  Hope has nothing to do with having it easy. 

I almost titled this article, Hope is Hard. to be honest, I still think it audibly sounds like a great title. However, I don’t want to send the message that hope is something that is out of reach; how you speak directly effects how you act. The word hard is just, well, off-putting in my opinion. Hard describes the density and rigidity of something.

Hope isn’t concrete- hope is just more challenging than giving up.

You have to set yourself up for success here and it starts with how you label things. Labeling something as hard sounds a lot different than challenging to me. Even just the replacement of new language here matters- its the  the space between resistance and perseverance. Being optimistic and hopeful is challenging. Its exhausting and sometimes (a lot of times) you won’t don’t want to do it.

A couple years ago I was talking to my old director about a client. She had told me that she discovered she only works hard at things she enjoys- I thought that was great. I was like yes girl- spend your energy on things that you like- I support you.

Now, when I told that to my director he looked at me somewhat perplexed and said, “You cant just do things in life you like. I want you to think about where that would get you.”

Well I guess in that moment I wasn’t really ready or willing to hear him because about a month later I quit.

Now, to be honest I quit for a lot of other reasons that don’t really belong here but I did quit- and I decided I was going to do things my way.

Months later as I was navigating what it was like to be completely self employed at 27 years old I sat for a moment heard my old director’s voice come through, “Think about where that would get you.” I had to start doing a lot of things that I didn’t like doing. I’m not wired for organization or time management. But I had to figure it out.  I was exhausted most days- not because I was overworked but because I was doing things that didn’t come natural to me. . . I had to put in effort.

I will vouch for myself here when I say I am a pretty positive person these days. I take my own advice sometimes and find PMA to work really well for me. But one thing I didn’t talk about in that article is how effing tired I am from being positive all the time and how challenged I feel every time siting hope on the bench becomes an option.

When you see someone who is looking on the brightside- know that they weren’t just given a good hand, know that they aren’t just naïve. I want you to know that those people are some of the most dedicated and hardworking people that you’ll probably ever meet. Optimism is something we actively choose- daily a million times over. Lastly, know that you can be one of them too. I’d rather be tired and in bed by 9:30 laying down next to hope than pissed off and awake all night. But I’ll let you make that decision for yourself. 🙂

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