Can Optimism Save Me?

Note: All opinions in this article reflect solely those of the author. 

I have heard the phrase “2020 can’t get any worse” so many times this year. I suppose this disbelief could be referencing the eye-opening realization that we, truly, are in danger, but this phrase does nothing but anger me. These words linger in my head constantly, a slow beat that gradually builds up momentum and suddenly there are too many phrases for me to comprehend. There is just too much going on right now, and I feel overwhelmed, helpless, and above all, pessimistic. Sometimes I wonder if there is any hope at all.

This is not my first encounter with pessimism. It was the stereotypical devil on my shoulder for years; I could not control it. Moodiness, aggravation, and discomfort plagued my younger years. Fortunately, changes in my lifestyle occurred in high school and I found my angel: my Optimism. I was looking at the bright side of life for the first time since I was a child. Life was good and I felt good. When there was a problem, I knew how to solve it. I was the superhero, and my power was positivity. 

Then, a pandemic happened. Then, I saw systemic inequality and immense polarization before my own eyes. Then, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a pioneer for women’s rights, passed away. Natural disasters, international turmoil, even the politicization of Tik Tok barged their way into my brain, lodging themselves until all I could see was my old friend Pessimism. It was easy to slip back into a pessimistic attitude. With everything going on in the world, no one could really blame me. I am a woman of color living in America. My life will always be dictated by the opinions of predominantly white men. Why shouldn’t I embrace Pessimism? Is it naive of me to even consider Optimism in a time such as 2020?

No, rather I believe it is brave of me to choose Optimism’s side in the never-ending battle of perspectives. Rather than sitting idly by and hoping for change, I will use my anger, my passion to drive me forward and to create that change. I am allowed to be optimistic that a vaccine against the Covid-19 disease will someday arrive. I am allowed to be optimistic that one day, social change can be made. I am allowed to believe I can make a difference in my society and my community. I am a woman of color living in America. I choose to live with Optimism. I am the change that will set us free.