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ableism 

Post-writing addendum: was reminded about the usage of "blind" as a term for ignorance and I apologize.

(Short of just deleting the entire thread -- I'm not really keen on spamming timelines again with it after seeing how long it got -- I'm not entirely sure what to do to fix this retroactively, but I'll do so if it'd be better to)

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And that's all I have to say on this for now. (Boy, I thought this would take up fewer toots than it did. I am so sorry for not CWing.)

Take care of yourselves. Try to be productive, and not destructive. It's so, so much better than you think.

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Because you *should* try. And even if it doesn't work out, you went down kicking and screaming.

And if you went down kicking and screaming, you probably did a lot to help others pick up the slack in the process too.

The idea that "none of this means anything" isn't just lowering expectations. It's just plain wrong.

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Optimism is believing that "there's a way to make this work, if I can just figure out a way", and being proactive in the search for it while also being well aware of your (realistic) limitations and what hand you're being dealt.

Sometimes that hand is awful, but you try anyway.

And this is, ultimately, in the end, why you need to cut the nihilism, because believing that "none of this matters anyway" is what enables that mentality about bothering to try.

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The realistic optimist looks at their life situation and determines that they can, emotionally and schedule-wise, send about 10 applications a day and integrate it into their routine. So when a job listing for something fit for them appears in April, they're ready.

See the difference? The pessimist and the blind optimist set themselves up for instant disappointment and therefore didn't make it all the way to April, when an opening fit for them actually showed up. And now one of them has a job.

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Let's say, on a nice January morning, someone applying for a job sends out 50 job applications, all of which get rejected in short order.

The pessimist immediately decides "getting a job is impossible for me, and I should give up now".

The *blind* optimist convinces themselves that the next job app they send will TOTALLY be the one, throwing realism out the window, naturally setting themselves up to be disappointed. Yeah, that part is definitely true.

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Of course, there's stress involved! But notice that simply going in with the mentality of "in what ways can I make this work" and seeking out alternative or unconventional options sure gets you a lot further than giving up at stage one because it's so totally doomed to fail.

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The true informed optimist is proactive. It's not about "assuming everything will be fine". It's about understanding that everything has a chance of working or not working, and seeking out backdoor routes or alternative solutions or backup plans to prevent fallout.

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And finally: how to be an optimist while also not being unrealistic.

The very simple answer is "do not make unqualified assumptions".

In essence, you treat everything like a strategy game. What can I do with the situation I have now? If I try doing X, what are the realistic chances of it happening? If it doesn't work, do I have a backup plan? If I can't do it at all, what are my other options?

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There's productivity in being concerned and aware, and, in most cases, being concerned leads to stress. But to mandate that people must not try to avoid being stressed and upset...is counterproductive and inhuman.

This is what I mean about pessimism not actually being realistic or sensible. It drags you into a baseline of "being miserable is normal", and then you expect other people to be as miserable as you are. And I don't need to go into the many ways this is outright counterproductive.

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Whatever you think of the guy and his work, dude wasn't trying to downplay the severity of the issue or pretend he was magically curing the ill, just...what on earth is so despicable and awful about a little thing to make people less stressed and miserable?

There's nothing productive about panicking or being upset.

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The second thing is to stop being condescending about the idea of positivity.

Again, I'm not talking about blind optimism, or people saying cushy things with no substance. I get it -- those are at best annoying and at worst woefully ignorant.

But yesterday a certain famous composer released a song explicitly as a way to cheer up people who are feeling down about the virus panic, and people kept clowning on him for the sheer gall of...uh, trying to give people positivity?

Huh???

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First: like I said, cut the nihilism jokes.

Even if you feel this way inside, stop posting about it. Stop talking about it or retweeting about it. Words do a lot -- they build up and validate yours -- and others' -- feelings.

There's advice that goes around about how self-deprecating jokes about being garbage or a failure need to go. I also agree with that as well. Unless you're talking about specific issues to be addressed, any kind of "blanket, unfocused" nihilism or self-hatred needs to go.

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So, what can you do? If you're someone who considers yourself to be pessimistic, obviously I cannot offer solutions that work for everyone's individual needs, and you'll have to consider what works for you (especially if you have a therapist you can talk this out with)

But here are some ways to start.

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This stuff can take a lot of unlearning. I'm not writing this expecting to change anyone's minds immediately. But in this world -- especially on the individual level -- often scoring a success means 50 failures in the process. Sometimes you have to just "stab at things and see if one works", and that's not something you can do when your frame of mind is nihilistic.

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This isn't smart, nor reasonable, nor practical. It's not any more logical or sensible than blind optimism. In fact, this in itself is blind -- you just blanket throw in the towel without any proper reasoning. It seems deceptively "comforting" at first, but it eats you alive.

Now, I do want to make it very clear: unlearning this is easier said than done, even if you do have access to a therapist or other mental health resources.

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So you add it to your list of failures and things you hate about yourself. You never even really tried it, you just decided that this is one of your failures. And then you hate yourself for being a failure (even though you never tried in the first place).

And the next time you run into a similar decision, now you have yet another entry on your list of "failures" to prove that you shouldn't even bother trying, and...

...See what I mean by a self-fulfilling prophecy?

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(...at this point this is long enough I wonder if I should have CW'd, oops)

This is the crux of depression and low self-esteem -- when you're pessimistic about how things will go, you build up a list of imaginary failures.

You look at a situation that looks difficult. You assume that you're bad at it, so you never even try. But on top of that, you convince yourself that not only would you *possibly* failed, you take it as an absolute certainty that you *would* have failed.

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What I notice about most "pessimistic" people is that they assume the worst case, dead-end, world-ending scenario, and then, because of that assumption, *act as disappointed and miserable as if it already happened* -- even though it didn't.

So it feeds into a self-fulfilling prophecy, because people give up. They isolate themselves into a reality where everything failed.

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This is holding just that *one* finger back on the emotional catastrophization of "...and so why bother trying?"

It's easier said than done, but, again, let me ask you: Does being pessimistic about outcomes ever make you happier?

You say "I'm keeping my expectations low so I can be pleasantly surprised, and I'll never be disappointed," but...

That's...a lie, actually.

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