I am a victim of my own optimism.

That’s what I thought as I scrutinized the unlabeled, undated plastic container of frozen brown gunk that I found in the bottom drawer of our freezer.

Robin Conte

Robin Conte lives with her husband in an empty nest in Dunwoody. To contact her or to buy her new column collection, “The Best of the Nest,” see robinconte.com.

That’s what I think every time that I slide into a meeting 10 minutes late, due to the fact that I was sure that I could do just one more thing before I left and still arrive on time.

That’s what I think when I’m still wide awake at 3 a.m. because I drank that after-dinner cup of coffee anyway.

Optimism brings with it an unflappable faith in the self and others and, for that matter, life in general. It’s what keeps me hanging on to a small collection of unmatched socks because I am sure their mates are bound to turn up. It’s what convinces me every time that the repairman will arrive within the stated two-hour window of time. It’s that tiny voice in my head that insists that those little specks in the rice are not moving.

Often, optimism starts small, like a tender sprig of lilac hopefully peeking up through the earth before it’s crushed by the heavy boot of reality.

To illustrate: for years I was awakened nightly by hungry infants, teething toddlers and crying preschoolers, and I stumbled through my days eagerly anticipating the point when I would no longer have to drag myself out of bed in the middle of the night to tend to a child. After about a decade, the opportunity for eight hours of uninterrupted sleep was finally realized. But just when my kids finally started sleeping through the night, I stopped doing it.

Such is the irony of optimism.

In my opinion, optimism is what gets us out of bed each day, keeps us trying just one more time, allows us the generosity to give someone else a second chance. Optimism, I believe, powers the world.

Witness the mother who every summer is convinced that things will calm down when school begins, and every school year can’t wait until school ends so that things will ease up in summer again.

That constant cycle of optimistic energy is what keeps her going, like a self-charging hybrid.

I believe, in fact, that we are all essentially optimists.

To prove my point, I have made a handy list of telltale signs that you, too, are an optimist:

  • You buy orchids.
  • You think that if you circle the parking lot just one more time, a
    spot will open up.
  • You have faith that you can cozy up on the sofa with your laptop at the end of
    the day and stream the entire next episode of your current favorite show with
    out it buffering at the climactic moment.
  • You think that someone else will take the initiative to empty the
    dishwasher today.
  • You’re sure that whatever you’re about to do will only take 15 minutes.
  • You’re certain that you can make a tasty dinner out of a can of stuffed olives
    and an old bag of gnocchi.
  • You honestly believe that that pair of snakeskin pants will look good on you.
  • You think that the pain in your back/neck/shoulder will go away on its own.
  • You’re confident that you can make the box of your favorite snack last until the
    end of the week (rather than the end of the day).
  • You’re sure you’ll remember your password. And your username. And your security questions.

Are you recharged, optimists, knowing that you’re not alone? Power on for another day!

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