Half-Empty, Half-Full, or Just a Glass of Water?

Some people accuse me of being bitter, or a pessimist. This is far from the truth. I am a realist, and parts of me are an idealist (a “real-dealist” if you will). However I am not blind to how things have been, how they affect me, how I need to work on things, and the possibility that things may not always go according to plan. I do not just blindly assume that things will work out for the best. Why? Well because if one wants something one has to work for it. One has to invest in it. Even when someone has something, one has to work in order to keep it. A person can look for something to be happy about in every situation, and there is nothing wrong with that, but to ignore negative feelings, to just try to block it out, creates more problems, and few solutions. No matter how much an optimist says, “Things will work out for the best,” if he/she doesn’t acknowledge what is going on and how to fix it, if that person refuses to acknowledge that it is affecting him/her, then that person will be left with spinning wheels. Not to mention, SAYING that everything is okay when it clearly isn’t doesn’t really change a thing. Do you see this orange?

Photo by Jonas Löwgren via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Photo by Jonas Löwgren via Flickr
(CC BY 2.0)

Now an optimist can sit there all day and say that this orange is an apple. That person can wish it was an apple, even say one day it will be an apple…. But it is not an apple. It is an orange. Wishing doesn’t change it to an apple. It will never BE an apple. Realists see that and know that if they want an apple, they are going to have to go to the store to buy one.

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Too Late

They met when they were young. She fell madly in love with him. His charm, his smile, his kindness, everything about him drew her in. For a year, it seemed as if he, too, was in love with her. That was until he became so absorbed in his work that he forgot to focus on their world. She could see it, but for the sake of love was blinded to its severity for a time. But time waits for no man or woman, and soon it was too late.

She graduated college after working hard to earn her degree. She looked out in the crowd, eager to see his face. She had hoped he would take the time to show up, even though his friends were in town. As she received her degree, her heart sank, as he was no where to be found. As her fellow graduates invited her for a celebratory drink, she peered at her phone. A text read, “Sorry, got caught up in a project. Be there soon.” She replied, “No, it’s okay. We’ve finished up. You’re too late.”

On a scheduled date night, she waited at the restaurant she picked out. She sat patiently, recalling the things he had promised they would do that night. She knew he would more than likely be working late again, as he had been working unnecessarily long hours hoping to finally reach a “big breakthrough”. An hour passed, then two, then three. As the staff started closing the restaurant, she picked up her things and walked to the car, only to see him walking toward the door. “Where are you going?” He asked. “I’m going home. They’re closing, it’s too late.”

On their one year anniversary, she got home early to make a candlelit dinner. She prepared his favorite meal, laid out candles near the bathtub, and unwrapped the lovely negligee she had picked out the week before. She hoped that this would at least be enough to capture his attention for the remainder of the evening, as they had spent little time together, even when he was home. Maybe tonight they would rekindle the dying flame, maybe they would fall asleep blissfully instead of with sterile kisses and empty “I love you’s”. Her hopes were dashed when he came home, ate hurriedly, and opened his computer to “finish up” something he was working on. She sighed and cleared the bathtub of the candles to put them away, then changed into her pajamas to go to sleep. When he walked in a few hours later, he asked if she still was awake and wanted to celebrate their anniversary. “I wanted to celebrate, yes. I had a wonderful evening, I thought, planned out. But it’s 3 AM, dear. It’s too late.”

The years went on, and she found herself pregnant with their first child. She was excited, and at times he was as well, as he was happy to “leave behind his legacy.” While this view point was disconcerting to a point, she brushed it off and enjoyed her growing belly. When the time came for her to have their child, a close friend rushed her to the hospital. She called her husband, telling him that it was time. He was out of town on business, but was supposed to be home early that morning. He had promised he wouldn’t stay any longer than required, but he got wrapped up in his work. He told her that he would leave as soon as he could. Later that night, he walked into the room, to see his tired wife surrounded by loved ones as they admired their son. “I missed it?” He asked. Looks of shame and disdain covered the faces of the others in the room as they turned to face him. “Yes, you missed it,” she replied in a voice exhausted by childbirth and disappointment. “You’re too late.”

Another year passed. He finally achieved the big break he had been working for… The one he sacrificed all his time for…. The one he neglected his relationship for all those years. As he and his co-workers shared a celebratory bottle of champagne, his friend of many years asked, “So do you think your wife will be happy for you, now that you will finally have time for her after so many years of ignoring her to chase this?” He looked at his friend, and suddenly the shock of realization hit him. It didn’t matter how many times she had warned him, asked him, or begged him to work on their relationship. He had always chalked it up to her being hormonal or just looking for an argument. It took someone else to point it out, but he finally realized that he really had ignored the one person that had been there all that time. Yes, he had more money and would have more recognition, but would it be worth anything to him if his wife was not there to share it with him? Would she be willing to share a life with someone that used his job as a proverbial mistress while she sat patiently waiting for the man she loved to return to view? He ran to his car and drove up to the house in time to see her packing some things into her car. “Honey, wait! I got the promotion! I don’t have to spend long hours at work anymore, I can make it up…” “DON’T. You could never “make it up to me.” i have given you years of my life, and no matter what, you have placed your priorities at the very top. Your actions always speak louder than words, and they bespeak a man that is never satisfied until his ego and greed are fulfilled. You want nothing but the best for yourself, and won’t stop until you achieve it, but you ignore what you have in front of you. You had so many chances to make time for me, for us. And you didn’t. You didn’t have to spend constant long hours at that job working for a promotion through countless failed and flawed project ideas. But you chose to. You have your promotion now. You have more time now. Enjoy it alone. For us, as always, you are too late.”

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Everything in life requires balance. We have responsibilities, things we must do, things we enjoy doing. However, if someone chooses to walk the path of life with someone by one’s side, one must be careful not to push one’s significant other into the ditch just for the chance to walk on the smooth side of the road. I repeat the sentiment that time is finite. Whether by death or by consequence of our actions, the time we have with those around us is limited. We should be careful to ensure that the time is spent well and not cut short due to selfish antics or an obsession with never being satisfied. We will always make time for what we care about. We must ensure that what we care about devoting most of our time to is truly important enough to envelope so much time. So my friends, I must ask you, are you like the man in the story? Are you chasing something with so much fervor that you forget those around you? Are you living only in the future, so that you cannot enjoy what is right in front of you? Do you find that you are working only to continue working so that you can work on something else, instead of working to be able to have time and resources to enjoy life? Be careful on the roads you take, in all aspects of life. You may one day find that you lost someone or something dear to you because you realized the error of your ways too late.

Confidence Versus Conceit

Confidence is of key importance to having a happy, productive life. One must be able to believe in both ability and worth when it comes to many aspects of life, such as work, education, socialization, even relationships. Without a healthy self-esteem one may want something, yet not have the motivation to pursue it; even a person that strives for something may not believe it is deserved in the end if confidence is naught. Though appearance is superficial in the grand scheme of things, a person must possess the ability to accept oneself and appreciate one’s uniqueness, lest feelings of being unworthy of a romantic relationship sneak in. People that are not self-assured at times do not reach their full potential, and in even worse cases, their lack of self-worth can cause destructive tendencies that not only hurt them but the people around them. However, with this being said, there are major differences between someone who is confident and someone who is conceited.

Someone who is confident possesses self worth and embraces strengths while also acknowledging and improving his/her weaknesses. While this person may be proud of a talent, skill, or accomplishment, this do not mean turning a blind eye to the accomplishments of others. People of this persuasion do not set out to prove to the world that they deserve everyone’s undivided attention. Personal knowledge and growth is enough to satisfy someone self-assured, and the criticism from others will not cause this to falter, even if it makes someone stop and reflect for a moment. A confident person does not rely on the validation of every person met, as it is understood that not everyone thinks and believes the exact same though other’s right to an opinion is respected. Those that have self-esteem often revel in the happiness of those around them, as they do not need to tear others down to make themselves feel important. They are open to new ideas, even if they are steadfast in what they believe. Self-assured people are scarcely afraid to share an opinion, but they do so without being intentionally offensive or pretentious. A person of this personality will take care of outer appearance, however neither places value solely on such a trivial facet of life nor seeks the approval of everyone as a “standard of beauty”. In many cases, these people are comfortable enough with themselves to go against the societal fashion norms. Confident people tend to attract many others to them, and usually are not adverse to socialization, though quality friendships are valued over quantity. In relationships, they know what they want and what they deserve, but they also are keen to want to keep their partner happy. They are not content to settle for someone that treats them poorly.

Conceited people are never content to believe in their own strengths. They will over estimate and/or exaggerate their strengths , capabilities, accomplishments, and importance. People of this caliber also usually assume that those around them always must view them in the same light and will become very annoyed or hostile to those that question or threaten their perceived superiority. Arrogant to a fault, a conceited person will inundate others with mundane life details, trivial problems, and over-stated accomplishments. Often, conceited people are vain, and have seemingly uncountable pictures of themselves, while putting unspeakable amounts of money into beauty products, clothes and the like. These people will fake a humble exterior, while their actions bespeak someone that wants to draw an overt amount of attention to themselves. At the center of it all, conceited people have a psyche based on selfishness and grandiose self-importance. It often stems from the exact opposite of what a person wishes to convey: deep seated insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. It is a mindset of, “If I pretend that I am more than how worthless I feel, then people will surely see that I deserve money, love, friendship, etc.” These people tend to constantly seek validation of their accomplishments, therefore they never seem to talk about anyone other than themselves. Of course, there are many that actually believe they are that superior and seek others to praise them as they “deserve”. Egotistical people are perceived at first as charming, but in reality they have few friends. Instead they prefer “followers” or “admirers”. If someone falls into a relationship with an arrogant person, one may find that this person is more interested in his/her own wants, needs, and qualities.

While there are major differences between these two personality types, there is a fine line between them, especially if one is not confident but wishes to project such an image. It takes times, self-knowledge, and reflection to get to the point of confidence. In my case, it has taken over a decade, and I still must work at it daily. Never sell yourself short, but also don’t make a mountain out of a molehill and tell others it’s a fortress.