Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Realists (Warning: Venting Ahead!)

I have to vent. In a public forum. I usually vent at home while sitting on my couch and eating popcorn, spitting little pieces across the room at Roomy who desperately tries to dodge them, but I think I need to say this publicly.  Why not?  And, as an aside, I'm not suggesting no one's reality sucks.  I'm ranting against the use of the "realist" self-label.

The Rant

Every time I hear someone call themselves a "realist," it's usually as they're talking themselves out of doing something important that will lead to their happiness, justify what they predict will be a failure, or to just be pessimistic about their own lives.

Reality doesn't suck, people. Reality doesn't create your future, or give a damn about you, or if you succeed or fail and, regardless of what you think, you weren't cursed at birth (says the girls who keeps getting disgusting stuff in her eyes and stabbed herself earlier this week).

Oh no, reality doesn't suck. Your perceptions do and your efforts reflect your abismal outlook, creating a weird vicious circle of "OMG I'm stuck in reality's spinning wheel of DOOM!"

... seriously? Who the heck made you chief of what reality is? My reality's fine, thank you, you great realist, you.

So there.  Take that and stick it in your depressing vaccuum of "reality."


The Reason for the Rant

Because I love you and believe in you.

I keep hearing rumours about realists. I'm getting concerned. They might be near me, and I don't seem to be able to physically identify them.

I've always believed myself to be a realist, but I don't use that term anymore. When I wanted to be published, I wrote a lot, read writing books, attended workshops, spoke to people in the industry, worked even harder, and got published.  I figured if I took a bunch of steps and worked really hard and learned about pesky things like character development and plotting, then got better at them, I'd eventually get published. Or I'd learn that I really sucked and didn't like this one bit, and head down another road.

Eight years of trying and boom - my first novel was published. Okay. Awesome.

So I asked what was next? Pretty much the same as when I was trying to get published. Because now, I want more. I want to be better. I want my fans to read my next novel and think: Holy crap, this is the best book she's ever written. Over and over again I want this to happen. Will it? Depends on how hard I work, how good the market is, how loving my fans are (they're already all lovable!).

I considered myself a realist for a long time. A realist with a positive outlook, sure, but still a realist. I looked at the facts and chose a path. I didn't shy away from work, though I did whine from time to time (and still do! Okay, often.)

But for the past few years, a weird thing has been happening. Someone asks my opinion, or tells me about a problem. Cool. I don't mind, by the way. I think it's fun. But if you do that, I assume you're wanting some input. I give it. It's usually a plan, or the beginnings of a plan. Questions like: "What would you like to change," or "Where do you want to be in five years," are not infrequent replies. Makes the speaker speak, and not me. I'm not a psychic - I'm just a friendly ear.

After receiving answers like: "I'd like to be happy" or "I want to be doing this instead," I smile and declare: "Then, have you considered doing this, this and this?"

And, almost 100% of the time, the answer I get is: "Well, yes, but I'm a realist, so I know better than that."

Um, come again? So, in your reality, you're cool with being miserable. You're cool with not taking chances at happiness. You're embracing your laziness/unwillingness to run out of your comfort zone/misery. And let me be clear: it's your choice. And go nuts if you want to stay in your misery. Life altering decisions are hard, and it's not always the right time for them. We're not always in a position to change our lifestyles, though I find more often than not it's fear holding us back.

Heck, there's some stuff I've been toying with that I'm not going for yet. But I know why I'm not doing it. Not because "reality" stands in my way, that thick barrier of perception concrete. I have reasons, we all do, but at least be honest about them with yourself.

It's the only way you'll know how to tackle the change.

Reality is just a playing ground for our perceptions. That's it. It's everything and nothing, all at once. The worst that happens is that you fail. Put safeguards in. Tie a rope to your waist. Then jump.

There's more happiness in making a decision and sticking with it than there ever was in constantly whining and refusing to budge.

Take that, reality!

Or, conversely, everyone should stop calling themselves a realist, and instead call themselves "Master of My Reality," preferably in a booming He-Man voice with accompanying theme song. That, right there, nullifies my rant and makes me so very happy.