Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Optimist, Pessimist, Realist

I am definitely a pessimist. This sometimes surprises people, but it’s true. I think it drives me. Tell me I can't do something and that motivates me to do it. It can also hinder me - it's an annoying voice in the back of my head telling me what I can't, or shouldn't, do, or what I will never do well - somewhat a voice of perfectionism gone wrong. But recently, I think I've switched roles and become an optimist, just in one area. How can that be?

With shoulder surgery scheduled, I'm working on getting my house more friendly to someone with one arm. I've thought about it, and decided I can take a week or two off from work, and then either be ok to go to work, or be able to work from home. My mom is planning to come to help quite a bit. Dave, my husband, works but he always is a help. I've scheduled a phone appointment with my rehab doc to talk about things I might need to help and for him to fill out the FMLA paperwork. So, although I have no idea how this will go, I'm feeling like I'm ok. And I'll get time to be quiet and still which is different for me.

Enter the rest of the world. Very few are optimistic about this. One person said: "WHAT are you going to do?" meaning how the heck am I going to get through this? When I tell people I plan to take one or two weeks off, the reaction is frequently rolling of eyes or a "good luck with that!" chuckle. Wait a minute! This paragraph is supposed to be me, the pessimist, playing my role.

I don't know WHAT I am going to do, but one of the few other optimists about this, and someone who has been through something similar, said, "You'll get through it. You’re Beth, and you know you can get through it." Someone else advised me not to be embarassed to need help, because I will need help, and I know this. Perhaps my return-to-work expectation is not realistic, but then maybe it is, because I bet I’ll get bored quickly. So, I think I'll remain the optimist. It’s a different role for me, but I like it. After surgery, hopefully I'll be a realist. But, I can play any role, apparently.

So as I head to the ski slopes Friday, I'm really wondering how the skiing will go, given that my shoulder has been hurting worse since I slipped on black ice. But life goes on. The optimist tells me I will be fine and I'll have my usual skiing day and may even surprise myself. The pessimist is that voice in the back of my head asking me why I am going skiing and telling me I am going to fall a lot. The realist is right. The realist in me tells me that I am going to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center for skiing because it is there where I don't feel different, where I am simply Beth. And there it can be determined how to adapt to my shoulder problems, rather than dwell on them. Simply, Beth. I like that. Simple.

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