My boyfriend is quite an optimist. I, on the other hand, lean more towards being a cynic.
And when an optimist and a cynic get together and fall in love, conflict happens.
Let me give you a way of understanding what our differing thought processes are: He sees a glass half-full and I’m doubting if the glass is really going to hold my water.
Grant is the most supportive boyfriend I could ask for, but because of my cynicism and skepticism, I question everything. I question why he’s being supportive, I question whether he really wants to be supportive, I question whether his support is enough, I question if I even know how to receive support. Even though he’s sincere and hardworking, I find something to doubt and criticize. In other words, I don’t fully believe in anything.
Now, when I express my doubts of Grant’s intentions and sincerity, he’s surprised and responds to my cynicism by believing things will be fixed no matter what. He’s confident that he can prove himself again, and he’s so sure that he can do it that he often forgets to work towards it. When my cynicism reveals itself a couple days or weeks later, he’s caught off guard and thrown for a loop all over again. Because of his optimism, he expects things to quickly become fine and dandy like they once were. In other words, he believes in everything.
This post is not meant to condone nor condemn either perspectives of life. I can see pros and cons for each, and those pros and cons have presented themselves in our relationship.
You might be thinking to yourself that optimism is the obvious winner when it comes to whether optimism or cynicism should be most celebrated and sought after. But let me offer a different way of looking at it. Yes, optimism tends to make you more happy and more friendly and more hopeful, yada yada. But optimism, if unchecked, can lead to carelessness. An optimist can believe so firmly that something will happen that they end up not doing anything to get there.
And cynicism is no winner, either. Being a cynic makes you a little more foolproof than others. You are skeptical of people’s motives and already expect some disappointment, which can protect you from being taken advantage of or hurt. But cynicism, if unchecked, can lead to faithlessness. A cynic can believe so firmly that nothing will happen that they decide to not even try doing anything to get there.
I have seen both sides and I can’t say which is more right.
But here’s something Grant and I have realized: we might not be able to change each other, but we have to figure out a way to accommodate each other. And if we really want our relationship to thrive, we have to figure out a way to bring out the best of these things in each other.
When our optimism and cynicism work together, we become unstoppable.
He’s the hopeful one, the one looking toward the future and believing wholeheartedly we’ll get to where we want to be. I’m the critical one, looking for the pitfalls that we need to avoid and pressing us to evaluate and fix our motives.
If he’s being overly optimistic, then he won’t understand my cynicism. And if I’m being overly cynical, I won’t understand his optimism. And when you don’t understand someone and you just assume they’re the one who needs to change… well, both people get a little ticked off.
With that being said, we each have to find a way to hold ourselves accountable so we don’t get carried away in our mindset and shut ourselves off from options.
We need to know how to allow room for the other’s perspective and beliefs.
So God comes in.
When I surrender my mind to God, He can shape it to be more understanding and loving of Grant’s hope and optimism. He might not rid me of my doubts (because a healthy amount of doubt in life can serve a purpose), but He can give me just enough faith to keep believing and keep hoping.
And when Grant surrenders his mind to God, He can shape his to be more understanding and loving of my doubts and cynicism. He might not rid Grant of his confidence (because a healthy amount of confidence in life can serve a purpose), but He can give him just enough humility to keep working hard and keep striving.
And when I’m believing and hoping a little more, and Grant’s working and striving a little more, we’re one step closer to seeing eye-to-eye and conquering any conflict or misunderstanding that wants to rear its head.
It’s not a perfect formula and I’m sure I’ll never find one, but at least I know that when an optimist and a cynic fall in love, nothing has to be hopeless.
This is my stud right before his big interview with the fire department. And let me tell you, preparing for such an interview is no small task. It’s a task requiring a healthy amount of both optimism and cynicism, and I’d like to think that we came pretty close to mastering the fusion of our perspectives during that process. It was just one of many opportunities to work together and pray together, and nothing’s over yet.