I imagine every person has encountered the adage “is your glass half full or half empty” when seeking advice about a specific life event. And if you haven’t heard it, I suggest climbing out from under the rock where you have currently taken up residence. It is an age old debate of optimism versus pessimism. I personally believe that any given day can result in a tug of war between the half full (optimism) or half empty (pessimism) philosophy. Is one way of thinking better than the other? Optimists might believe themselves to be happier, always highlighting the silver lining in even the worst situations. Whereas, a pessimist might argue that they prepared for the worst case scenario and were not disappointed because they had no real expectations for it to go the other way. And regardless of which side you tend to align with, isn’t a glass just a glass? I could potentially argue that if my glass is half full of wine, I have more drinking to do. But if it is half empty, the enjoyment has already begun. Thus, for me this particular adage is ambiguous and somewhat frustrating. Some people would consider me an optimist based on my generally positive demeanor, others who are aware of the inner workings of my scary mind may be more apt to define me as a pessimist. I like to consider myself a realist who is aware of the situation in its entirety and opts to face it head on.
The one thing I am certain of is that no matter which school of thought you belong to, we can all identify with crushing disappointment. I remember being in Middle School and believing that my then boyfriend was the love of my life and when we broke up that I would simply never recover. I locked myself in my bedroom and told my mom that she couldn’t possibly understand. At fourteen that moment felt like the end of the world. At thirty two I have to laugh at all the moments that seemed so significant then and are fleeting memories now, but the feelings attached are still very recognizable. Disappointment feels like….
- staying up late to watch your favorite show and falling asleep in the last ten minutes.
- reaching for the last cookie only to find that you accidentally put the empty bag back in the bread box (or microwave in my case).
- the concert you had been waiting for sold out in the first ten minutes and the only chance for tickets now is through Stub hub for triple the cost.
- that adorable dress you love doesn’t come in your size (because some stores think all women are under a 14).
- rooting for the wrong team because you just really wanted the underdog to win this once.
- getting a 64 on a test.
- when you realize that the object of your affection just doesn’t love you back.
Disappointment takes all forms. Today, my crushing disappointment felt like a phone call telling me that this treatment [Brentuximab] failed too. That this time not only did it fail but it allowed my cancer to progress and we would once again need to regroup and proceed to the next option. Once I processed the conversation, canceled my Boston appointments in preparation for stem cell (which is now looking more like Springtime if the auto is still a plausible option when all is said and done), called my people, and visited/ yelled at Mike at the cemetery – I came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter if my glass is half empty or half full because a glass is just a glass. There is no right lens to view the world by, there is only your take and some days are full while others are empty. Sure, disappointment can feel crushing temporarily. Lock yourself in your room like that fourteen year old version of yourself, cry it out, and realize that even this is not the end of the world. And even at the end of this disappointing day, I know that I have the most amazing family and friends and that I am loved. And more importantly I can laugh through my tears and I am still a fighter even when I feel defeated! The universe doles out experience good and bad, it is your reaction to either that is meaningful. So if your glass is half empty, fill it up. If your glass is half full, make a toast. Just keep it all in perspective!
(At this point my glass of wine needs a refill!)