I look at a world of possibilities. I find beauty in the ugly. I am the master of my thoughts and actions, and I choose to see the good in people. I always have – though the world is not always pretty and I don’t always feel giddy. It’s the only way I know to be. Feeling a lot, thinking a lot. Always wondering and drifting and questioning.
I’ve been called naive before. A hopeless dreamer whose ideas were sweet and innocent – admirable but out of touch with reality. I was told that I would wake up one day and learn how things worked in the real world. In the midst of passionate discussions about politics, social movements, or different visions of the future, I was told that I was wrong – not because my arguments were less plausible than others but because I was naive.
I usually try to hide the disappointment and the frustration that the word “naive” evokes in me each time it lets a conversation come to a sudden end. It’s when I shift in my chair uncomfortably, immediately wishing I hadn’t said a thing to begin with. In a light-hearted voice that sounds forced and uneasy to myself I might offer “optimistic” as an alternative. The truth is, I wish I could talk back with bold confidence and state that I am not offended because you are my friend; that I am not hurt because I thought we had a discussion as equals; and that I will not change my ideals because of this negligible comment. I wish I meant it. But the conversation is over. I am no longer explaining the cause I was promoting but myself.
It’s almost comical how we can dismiss another person’s sentiment that easily. How we can silence an opponent, a friend, or even a family member by shifting the conversation from the subject to the emotional level, undermining a person’s authenticity with one simple word. After all, naivety suggests a lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment. While it can be loosely tied in with optimism (which isn’t perceived as bad per se) there is a whole new dimension to it. You could say that naivety is optimism by ignorance, and that’s where the problems arise.
“You’re always happy,” a friend once said to me and I laughed. But then it happened a second time – this time with a different person – and a third. “You’re so euphoric all the time.” This shouldn’t come as a big surprise, but I’m not. And when I am told these things… it hurts. It’s discouraging and it makes me feel stupid and shallow. I shouldn’t have to convince you that I have scars just like everyone else.
Happiness, to me, is a choice. It’s a celebration of everything: the good and the bad, the moments that make me cry with laughter and the ones that smear my face with tears. For some phenomenal reason that we may never fully grasp or understand, we are here – in this moment and place, in the physical bodies we were born into, gifted with a voice, an opinion to make ourselves heard. Alive and able to experience all of this. The world and each other. A masterpiece of tiny atoms and molecules that make us us.
You may not relate to this feeling of gratitude. You may not agree with my notion on life, and that is perfectly fine. Let’s talk about our differences. Let’s argue, let’s be passionate, let’s agree to disagree. Different opinions have never hurt anyone. If anything they continuously break ground for change and progress. That’s the beauty of the world we live in: it isn’t black and white. I like to think of Vincent van Gogh who said: “Normality is a paved road: it’s comfortable to walk but no flowers grow on it.” If that’s the road you choose to walk whatsoever, go ahead. What’s right for you isn’t necessarily right for everyone else, so we might have to part ways at this point. In the end, all roads lead to Rome. When we all get there in the end, you can tell me all about your journey, and I will tell you about mine.