No, this post isn’t a scathing review of Charles Dickens’s tedious tale of unrequited love and infuriating youth (Although that certainly would be a joy to write). It’s far more self-centered in nature in that it’s about me. Specifically, my epic introspective quest to find the fitting mindset.
To be perfectly clear, a mindset is “a set of ideas and attitudes that shape the way someone thinks about themselves and views the world,” (Reachout.com). Whenever I think about this, I’m immediately plagued by the aggravating question: Is the glass half-empty or half-full?
If I say it’s half-empty, I’m supposedly more of a pessimist and a cynic. But if I say it’s half-full, I’m an optimist and idealist. And for several introspective months, I’d really thought about crafting an honest response to this vague and vastly “informative” question.
In my quest for the perfect answer, I’ve seen dozens of humorous answers online, ranging from: “The dog wonders if he can eat the glass,” to “The worrier frets that the remaining half will evaporate by the next morning,”. And while several of such responses coaxed a chuckle out of me, none of them really answered the question as I would.
But one day, during biology class, the answer struck me like lightning. I was measuring hydrogen peroxide in hopes of determining the rate of catalysis by the enzyme catalase (What does all of that mean? It doesn’t matter).
If the glass has a capacity of 100 mL, it contains 50 mL of water. It was perfect, simple, scientifically accurate, and most importantly: realistic.
Since then I’ve realized that more than an optimist or a pessimist, I am a realist. For instance, whenever I consider the possibility of me performing a difficult task, say writing an extensive research paper within three days, I try to have a very real understanding both of my abilities and limitations. This way, I have a more concrete idea of whether I can finish the task within the given time-frame or not.
My more optimistic side says, “Yeah! Of course you can do it! You’ve written hard things before! How’s this any different?”
Not one to be spoken over, the more nagging and cynical counterpart says, “Really? You really think you can write all of it? All of it? Especially with all of the other assignments you’ve been given.? Well, good luck.”
Fortunately, the realistic mindset, which I rely on the most heavily, is a mixture of both. It says, “Well, Anusha, this is not going to be easy. And you’re probably going to lose a lot of sleep over this. However, with appropriate time-management and a cool head, I believe that you can and will do this. Alright? Alright. Good talk.”
Personally, I believe that this is one of the best mindsets to have because, unlike a pessimistic viewpoint, it doesn’t discourage me to the point of apathy. As in: What’s the point of doing this paper at all? I’m never going to finish it anyway. Or unlike an extremely optimistic perspective, it doesn’t blind me to potential obstacle, leaving me helpless when I finally stumble upon it: Oh my goodness, this paper is taking so long to write, and it’s already midnight! I had no idea I would be losing sleep over this! Oh woe is me!
So with my mindset of choice, I don’t usually have GREAT expectations, but rather more realistic and slightly optimistic expectations.