By: Revanche

Sunny pessimist or what’s the other thing?

June 28, 2017

Fortune cookie wisdomOver lunch with friends, my fortune cookie said: you will never need to worry about a steady income.

What’s your first reaction?
A) SCORE
B) Why, will I be too dead to worry?

My second fortune cookie said: You will always take on the hardest possible tasks in life.

That’s not a fortune, that’s a character indictment. So judgmental.

My third fortune cookie: You will live many years in material comfort.

Could they be the last years? I am happy to keep working to earn my way while I’m relatively young, it’d be nice not to have the “many years” dry up before I do.

It’s possible that I take fortune cookies far too seriously. It’s not at all possible that I eat too many fortune cookies per meal.

Ok, but big picture, here.

I’m not a risk-taker. I make highly conservative decisions at the best of times because I’ve known some of the worst times. Since I was 18, no job could be considered on the merits alone: challenges, opportunity, compensation. They had to be weighed with respect to the kind of sacrifices it would require from me, the impact they would have on my quality of life after I subtracted the time and energy required to do the job well.

Chatting with a friend who came to chronic pain late in life this week, they’re becoming burdened with the same uncertainty and reluctant awareness of their startling new physical and mental limitations. They’re taking steps back from intriguing job offers that they would have leapt at ten years before, declining opportunities that sound amazing and challenging with the queasy awareness that it’s amazing but very likely just too much for the new them.

Being a saver is definitely me, but it’s hard to tell whether I would always have been this conservative if a chronic pain disease hadn’t taken over my life. It’s also hard to tell if I can train myself to see past my limitations to find opportunities that won’t seriously negatively impact our lives even as they expand our horizons. Do such opportunities exist? I don’t know, but the first step is asking the question, right?

:: Are you an optimist or pessimist, a saver or spender? Do you save anything for the return trip, or do you put all your energy into your outbound journey, like the guys in Gattaca?

8 Responses to “Sunny pessimist or what’s the other thing?”

  1. I used to be an optimist, but after losing a couple of jobs when I wasn’t expecting it and dealing with the aftermath, I’m a lot more conservative and less spendy than I used to be. (If still less conservative and more spendy than Jon, who always seems more optimistic on everything but the fear that someone may sue him or something similar.)

    But Jon and I do have very different fears. The things I’m afraid of don’t worry him, like the erosion of democratic norms, health care costs, college costs, etc. The things he’s afraid of don’t worry me so much (people trying to take advantage of us, people’s opinions, the federal deficit.) Can you tell we’re a blue/red couple?
    Emily @ JohnJaneDoe recently posted…Spending or Overspending? When Expenses Keep Popping UpMy Profile

    • Revanche says:

      Oh yes, I forgot about the effect of being laid off during a recession on my worries about the future!

      And yes, it’s clear you have quite different worries 🙂

  2. I’m definitely a saver. I’ve actually been fairly lucky in terms of finding and keeping good jobs; however, I’m aware of how much of my success is dependent on my good mental and physical health, neither of which is guaranteed. So while I’m doing well work-wise, I’m saving most of my earnings to make sure that I’m okay even if the good fortune goes away.

  3. I think I've always been an optimist. "Let's figure out where we need to go, and then figure out how we're going to get there. When things come up, we'll deal with them. We'll be fine." But now...I don't know.SherryH says:

    I’ve always been an optimist. I’d make a plan for where we wanted to be and figure out how to get there. If things came up, I was confident we’d deal with them. My thought was never, “Can I do that?” but “How am I going to get that done?” And usually, I did. But now?

    While it isn’t physically painful, my disability imposes certain limitations–and the greatest constraint isn’t what I can do, but what other people, like employers, think I can do. I think others’ lack of confidence in me has led to a lack of confidence in myself, and to me pulling away even from things I probably could do, just because I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes.

    In other news, I’ve always been a saver and probably always will be. I don’t mind spending money when it’s appropriate, but not at the expense of having money available when I need it.

    • Revanche says:

      It’s surprisingly hard to keep feeling confident in yourself when others act as though they don’t have confidence in you despite evidence to the contrary. That’s another aspect of being confident/optimistic, I think.

      It also speaks to how strongly a society can hold people back when it labels people based solely on what they assume those people are like or capable of.

  4. Mrs. BITA says:

    An eternal optimist, my glass is always more than half full. This may be because while I wasn’t born with a silver spoon stuck in my mouth or any other orifice, life has generally been gentle with me, so I have never had my optimism slapped out of me. I am very, very grateful that this is the case, and that the mettle of my character has never been truly tested.

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