Hope vs. the worst-case-scenario

I love the feeling of being hopeful and excited and anticipating good things. It’s a rush. The future is wide open and bright and great things are comin’ around the mountain. In contrast, when things take a disappointing turn, which they often do, it’s like a punch in the gut. Sometimes being let down hurts so much that I can’t catch my breath.

I have to ask myself: are the hopeful moments worth the disappointment that often follows? Is it better to not allow yourself to believe good things will happen in the first place so that you have less distance to fall when things come crashing down?

I posed a question on the Meredith Schorr, Author page on Facebook asking people if they allowed themselves to get excited and hopeful about things or if they were always focused on the worst case scenario and waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under them. I got mixed responses. I’m somewhere in between.

I do allow myself to get keyed up about things. I try to be cautious and stay in the moment, but I do find myself getting revved up about the “possibilities” and I have to consciously reign myself in. But no matter how many times reality does not meet my expectations and I swear to never allow myself to believe the best case scenario is within my grasp, I find myself living that high again at some point.

On the flip side, even when things are looking good and there is no reason to suspect anything bad will happen, I automatically assume the worst is just around the corner and the slightest suggestion that something *might* be off sets me into a panic and a whirlwind of self-doubt. Even though I allow myself to get excited for a period of time, part of me is always waiting for things to fall to shit. Probably because they usually do. And usually, it is the precise moment when I allow myself to consider that maybe my doubts are in my head—a result of bad past experiences—that disappointment sets in. And when, through no fault of own and with the best of intentions, I find myself defeated and beaten down, I  insist I’ll never be able to pick myself up and begin again. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my sister that I can’t do it anymore—I can’t keep dusting myself off and starting from scratch when failure is imminent.

But it feels so good to be hopeful. When I’m in positive spirits, it’s contagious as I am better able to talk my friends off the ledge too. I smile more. I have more patience. I go to sleep with a sense of peace and look forward to the days ahead of me. Each day I have faith is a day I enjoy living. That’s not to say I never engage in a pity-party of one. When the shit undoubtedly hits the fan, I cry. I sulk. I curl on my couch watching mindless television. I text my sister insisting nothing will ever work out for me. I enlist my friends to go out with me for a drink (or three). And I scream at my best friend Alan for dying and leaving me without his guidance and unflagging certainty that someone as special as me should always have hope because I, more than anyone else he knows, deserves to be happy. But then I wake up, dust myself off and start all over again. I don’t really have a choice.

So, at the end of the day, I guess I believe the hopeful moments, however fleeting sometimes, are well worth the subsequent crash and burn. And even if I didn’t believe it, it’s who I am and if the past is any indication of the future, it’s who I will always be.