AM in the PM: In Defense of Negativity


Over time, I’ve heard many people say, “I don’t want to deal with your negativity.”

More often than not, this phrase revolves around me pointing out a flaw in an idea for class or otherwise. The first statement is usually backed by a second: “I’m an optimist and I look on the bright side.”

This is not meant to be an attack on optimists, nor is it an allowance for negative people to spread their darkness around. This is meant as a defense for negativity.

It is highly unlikely that someone could hold a positive attitude for all things. Most people have a certain subject or concept that they struggle with. Some people struggle with existentialism, others don’t understand comma placement and some don’t understand iambic pentameter.

Consider this hypothetical: you are walking through the woods and you hear a strange sound. An optimist, thinking the best of every situation, believes it to be a rabbit looking for food. A pessimist may believe the same sound to be a deranged wolf looking to eat them.

Both options are possible. Personally, I’d believe it to be the wolf, and this feeling of negativity may leave me better prepared than if I were to believe the sound came from a rabbit.

That feeling of uncertainty is applicable to most situations. If a test is giving you a feeling of negativity, perhaps it would be wise to look over your notes to be prepared. Alternatively, if you feel positive about the test, it may be because you shouldn’t be worried.

Pessimism and optimism aren’t titles. They are responses to stimuli. Different stimuli should affect people differently, so you should have the capacity for a different response.

Like the age old question of, is the glass half full or half empty? Either option is a mere observation of the state of the glass with no direct effect on the individual in question.

If this hypothetical is to be used to pinpoint whether someone is pessimist or optimist in a certain situation, then it matters what is in the glass.

For example, a glass with poison in it, should be half empty. I’d hope it was being poured out. If the glass is filled with chocolate milk, than I hope it is half full.

There is a reason that positive feelings and negative feelings exist. As a human being you are versatile, and your power, like a battery, comes from both positive and negative.