Monday, July 3, 2017

Can Pessimists be Good People?

Bojack Horseman was yet another one of those shows that I prematurely judged in my afraid-of-change, like-my-comfort-zone sort of way.

It’s a cartoon about a horse (man) who was a sitcom star in the 90s for a terrible show that made a ridiculous amount of money. Now he lives a wealthy, depressed life with little meaning or escape despite his lack of responsibilities.

First time I saw it, I thought, “This is idiotic.”

Second time I saw it, I thought, “This is pretty funny.”

Third time I saw it, I thought, “This is genius!”

And so it goes with me. I’m at least aware of it now and try to give things a chance despite my gut-impulse of negativity. People ask me why I attempt to force myself to finishing reading books I don’t like, talk to guys I don’t like, and watch all of T.V. shows I sneer at, and it’s because I have an instantaneous and irrational distaste for everything new. When I moved to New York City, I told myself to give it two years for this very reason. If I stayed away from everything that made a bad first impression with me, I wouldn’t have found half the stuff I loved. Truth is, I spent the last few years without little pleasures in life because I didn’t expose myself to novelty enough.

In the first season finale, Bojack asks his unreciprocated love interest if she thought he was a good person deep down. She responded with, “I don’t think I believe in deep down. I kind of think that all you are is the things that you do.”

In a pretty ironic way, the thing I dislike about myself is my negativity. I’m illogically pessimistic, my emotions prepping themselves for the most mediocre scenario even when conscious thinking tells me otherwise. I’m pretty smart when it comes to reading situations, and I can predict reactions and results fairly well. Doesn’t mean I can control them exactly, but I’ll find myself—like in this moment—believing that I have no capacity to feel love again while logically recognizing that it’s more likely I’m still healing from my first real failure.

On the surface, I think people these days see me as kind person, possibly a doormat. My actions tend to serve others. The nice thing about getting little pleasure out of life is it makes selfishness a futile endeavor. Deep down I know that I’m a good person. I recognize an inherent, ingrained, almost ridiculous sense of loyalty that other people in my life struggle to even rationalize:

“I don’t want to take the part time job to then suddenly turn around and quit if I get a full time.”

“Well, what are the odds you’re ever going to see them again?”

“No, I don’t want to screw them over.”

“Oh. Right. Fair enough.”

I don’t have to force myself to worry about others or take a lot of thought to feel guilt and remorse. I did spend a great deal of my life developing interpersonal intelligence—recognizing when I’m being a shit head—but I have a deep maternal instinct satisfied through teaching and caregiving.

On the other side, I’m an angry sonofabitch. Possibly due to constant hunger. Possibly due to the red hair, but mostly because of some sort of automatic territorialism that conflicts with my sense of solidarity. I want everyone to be happy, but I do not want some smaller mutt acting like he’s the king of the hill. Metaphorically speaking. An actual dog could get away with it.

Upon some self-reflection, I also realized a pretty obvious source of my anxiety: I’m afraid of being ganged up on. I don’t think that’s abnormal, but the amount I obsess over it is. I don’t mind when someone hates me, (Well, I don’t spend a lot of time distraught over it anyway.) but I get unnerved when I can’t read a room, such as when filled with strangers. You can control a situation when you understand pre-existing feelings, avoid getting alone with two people who hate you at one time, and avoid bringing up subject that everyone disagrees with you on. But when you know nothing, tides can turn easily.

Am I a good person? Deep down, I genuinely care about people. On the surface, I focus my actions to ease the lives of those around me.

But somewhere in between I’m snippy, judgmental, and need to be right. 

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