I have never been what some would call an optimist. I come by it naturally, that is for sure. It’s not like there’s a specific memory to pinpoint, but it’s difficult to recall Mom ever offering up encouragement before finding the ‘half-empty’ in any situation I presented to her. My grades could be better, but they’re okay (I got mostly A’s, with a smattering of B’s… let’s not talk about the two C’s- I blame the teachers for those). If you lost some weight, you’d be happier. A box of macaroni and cheese is not dinner… wait, that has nothing to do with being an optimist, I just still remember her saying that and being shocked because that couldn’t possibly be true.
Like my Mom, it is easy for me to find the negative in any given moment. I actually have to work to find the positive first. It’s a tough burden to overcome, but one that is necessary when teaching middle school. You can’t walk around all the time putting them down. You have to notice that good thing first and follow it up with constructive criticism. For example:
Me: Mid-sized Johnny- I really like how creative your story is. Next time, could you read it loud enough so that I could actually hear you.
Mid-sized Johnny: Mmshdkguash
Or something along those lines. I can’t just say, “I couldn’t hear you.” That could hurt his feelings. That technique wouldn’t have worked on me, I can tell you that. I would’ve heard the first part- how creative I was- and hung on to that with every fiber of my being. The ‘talking louder’ (like that could’ve EVER been a problem for me) would’ve flown right over my head and out the window. But man, I would have written some great stories.
I bring this up because, at times, it’s lonely here. I’ve never really belonged to any particular ‘group’ in any school we’ve been in. Dave and I seem to be the type of people that can hang out with anyone, but don’t always get invited to things. Even at 32, I feel that being-left-out-sting. Those are the times I try to find the half-full in the situation. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t. So for those times when I can’t, I’m going to make a list of half-fulls… just so I don’t forget.
1. A wonderful husband
2. Best friends, even if they’re not close by (which includes a very adorable and wonderful little Sissypoo)
3. A wiggly baby in my tummy
4. A fantastic Daddy
5. The two cutest dogs anyone has ever had
6. A fun job in an interesting place
7. Opportunities to travel
8. A nice house
9. A warm bed
10. A creative spirit
There. That should do it. The next time it looks or feels half-empty, I’m going to remember the good things. We can’t be encouraged all the time- sometimes we have to struggle a little. But with a half-full glass of water (or wine in a few months), maybe that struggle won’t seem so hard.