Thoughts on Optimism

By Paulina Gabrielle M. Benitez

I can’t even remember a time when I haven’t looked on the bright side. In fact, I can imagine I have probably annoyed almost every person I’ve known, at one point or another, with my unrelenting optimism. However, this does not mean that I am irrational or uncaring, for I don’t simply overlook or disregard the problems and sadness that come into my life Instead, I just hold tight to my belief that I can conquer anything as long as I have the willpower and determination to do so. I honestly believe that, as human beings, we are capable of doing anything, even the impossible, should we possess the focus and motivation to pursue and complete that task.

This power lies in our ability to change, to adapt, and to innovate, and that very ability is what has set the human race apart to begin with. We’ve all seen examples of this incredible power of ours before, when we defied gravity and sent ourselves not only into the sky but then into outer space, every time when wars have ended in favor of peace, when racial, ethnic, and social boundaries have been eradicated in the pursuit of equality and liberty, not to mention the infinite number of times any human has done anything they were told they couldn’t or wouldn’t be able to do. Ultimately, the basis of our humanity is our simultaneous rejection and acceptance of it, that quality of ours which enables us to fall down and get back up again, or to look our mistakes or our fears right in the eye and move on while becoming better people for it. This characteristic, and the daily proof of it is what fuels my optimism, for I am constantly inspired by humanity’s overarching attempt to transcend physical, geographical, social, economic, and political boundaries in our unwavering desire to improve ourselves, and by the grace with which we pick ourselves up and try again when that attempt fails.

Unfortunately, the problem with my generation is that as a whole, we’ve become jaded. I believe that the knowledge of our seemingly ever-building list of local, global, cultural, political and environmental problems is what’s causing so many of us teenagers to seek an escape, whether it be through drugs and alcohol, misbehavior, or even addiction to technology. It’s hard for us to see a solution to any of these problems, especially when many of the issues we’re now confronted with are those caused by other generations. Precisely for this tragic reason, one of my goals in life is to share my beliefs and optimism with everyone in need of them, for I remain convinced that there is no problem too difficult for us to solve, especially if we take the time to brainstorm and work together on a solution.

I’ve never seen the use of dwelling on the past, except to take away lessons from it to use in planning the future, and I hope to restore the hope for progress and change to the many people who’ve lost it by being overwhelmed by our past and current issues. This is a goal I always strive to achieve on a daily basis by pointing out this beautiful characteristic of mankind to anyone who questions our capacity to improve ourselves. Additionally, I intend to achieve this through other long-term goals of mine which include helping to solve and prevent environmental issues that we’ve run into, to do all I can do to help establish peace, health and human liberties both locally and globally, and to promote rights and powers of minority groups. This third goal is a bit different from the others, but it stems from my own experiences, for I’ve grown up being told and shown that since I’m part of an ethnic minority group, society’s expectations of me are very low, and as I’ve always refused to let that knowledge and reality weaken my resolve or slow me down, I hope to encourage others to do the same. I will admit that these goals and desires may appear to be somewhat farfetched, but that doesn’t cause me to question or doubt my ability to accomplish them in the least, in fact, it only makes my determination to achieve them even stronger. To me, the word “impossible” has always been, and forever will be, nothing but a word.

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