Optimism? Hardly!

A short while back, A- had an assignment in school to write a speech for the Optimist Club. She wrestled for days with even beginning the project because she was unable to pull any optimism out of a hat. She’d been in a particularly downward spiral with her depression and just couldn’t see the light of day.The topic was how your best brings out the best in others.  What she chose to do, was write a speech about why she did not believe she had a best.  She shared a bit about herself that she has always kept quiet to outsiders, and she managed to write the speech and deliver it in class to her peers. She knew she would never be chosen to give her speech to the Optimist Club, because, after all, it definitely wasn’t what they were looking for, but I was proud of her all the same for the bravery it took to write what she did and to stand up in class and share it. I know I push her to “look on the bright side” and to find the good in each day. The thing is, even when she is feeling her worst, she does truly try to do that. Just same days she comes up empty.I wish with all of my heart that she would know that she DOES bring out the best in others – not just in me, but she touches more people than she will ever know.

I asked her if I could share her speech here, because I was very proud of the effort it took her to write an honest essay, and because I think what she has to say is important. She needs to know that her words are valid, and that I think it took a lot of courage to write what she did. She could have faked an optimistic essay. She could have written anything down that she thought they wanted to hear and no one would have been the wiser, but she chose not to, and I think that is worth something. So here it is:

What if I don’t have a best? I’m not really the optimistic person in my group; in fact I’m the pessimistic one. My past and my present have made it very hard to be happy. I try to be the best I can but I’m one of those people who wake up in the morning and find nothing to get out of bed for. The world has taken away most of my happiness. My best is unsatisfying for some people and I’m trying to learn to deal with that but it’s really hard.

 I have been told all my life that I was never good enough and I truly strive to be a better person. Sometimes I am happy but I have to confess it’s a put on. I’m the queen of fake smiles and the master of the lie “I’m fine.” So how can you ask me about this subject? I mean come on, not everyone is happy; not everyone has a best. I hate that my best is not good enough. I’m sorry if I’m not happy but I have a pretty good reason not to be. My life may not be all bright and shiny but I get by. I may wake up and hate every part of myself but I tell myself that I am going to show people that if I can get up they can too. My best is blossoming out of my pain and suffering. I may not talk about what has happened to me in the past but I want to show the world that every person that thinks they’re not beautiful deserves some one to tell them that they are. Not everyone wakes up and finds something to live for and not everyone can look inside themselves and be happy.

            My inspiration to keep on living would be my mom. She is the only person that knows almost everything that has happened to me. She gets me through so much and she sees the best in me when I can’t. She tells me I’m funny, beautiful, kind and that I deserve everything no matter what other people think. Music has also helped me get through so much. People say my music is scary and stupid. Music is what I live for. I wake up to music and go to sleep with music. It has saved my life so many times and I feel like I owe the bands everything. When I have a really bad day at school or just a really bad day and I want to end it all, I think about the lyrics of my favorite songs and remember that I need to get through it. I need to get through it for myself and for the ones who care about me. Music makes me feel beautiful. I am trying to be the best I can but being happy is just not going to happen right now. I’m going to try my best though.

            I have depression, ADHD and anxiety. Depression keeps me up late at night telling me that everything is my fault and that I’m worthless. My depression is caused by an external source and it’s not getting any better. My past has almost killed me so many times but I get through it. When I fall my depression pushes me down even farther. My life is really hard with a little voice in my head telling me to stop trying, that I’m already drowning so don’t fight it any longer. My ADHD tells me to be hyper and talk and talk and talk. It’s really hard to concentrate even with the meds. I’m not a straight A student never have been but at least I try.

 People say I’m not doing my best and that I’m disappointing. What I have to say to that is, well thanks you’re making it so much better by telling me how bad I am. You go ahead and laugh at my anxiety and awkwardness behind my back and make me feel bad about myself. Go ahead think I’m weird, think that I am an attention seeker and talk behind my back. You are hurting me really bad, so I hope it makes you feel good.

I am not the most loved person at school. My anxiety makes me really scared to talk to people. I don’t have many friends and I guess I like it like that. All my friends are outgoing and I’m sitting in the corner freaking out inside. I don’t like talking to people because even the smallest people intimidate me. I also don’t really know how to talk very well. For example, this is one of my conversations: person: “hi” me: “umm” and runs away. Yes I run away from conversations every day, more than once. My life is full of unfinished conversations. It’s pretty sad I know but that’s just me.

Of all the things that are wrong with me I have to say depression is the main thing I struggle with. I may not have the best luck with people and I’m not the prettiest, I mean I’m no prom queen but I can deal with that. Depression is another story. I can’t deal with it alone. I have tried but it only makes it worse. In fact everything I do makes it worse. Every breath I take gets me closer to the edge. I really don’t want to fall. My heart, what is left of it, tells me I want to jump off but my mind and the broken pieces of my heart that I’m still trying to piece together tells me I have so much to live for.

 I am being told I am such a bad person from one person while another person is telling me I’m great. Now do you see why I’m so sad and confused all the time? I mean these people are very different and they both have been telling me the same things since I learned to understand what they were saying. I have never known who to believe. I have spent so many nights crying and hurting that I don’t know what to do anymore. 

I think my favorite line is “My best is blossoming out of my pain and suffering.” This essay really struck me. It isn’t her best writing, it isn’t as deep and thoughtful as she usually writes (when she is in the mood), but instead it was raw and full of honesty. Maybe if she just keeps opening herself up a bit at a time, she can one day lay all her demons to rest. At least that is my wish for her.





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