Optimism, happiness, and being young

Someone remarked that I’m clearly an optimistic person, and asked me how old I was. When I told him that I’m 28, he laughed and said that I’m optimistic because I’m young, and that he’s cynical because he’s 35 and part of Generation X (and older and wiser and more experienced, probably his unspoken continuation).

I thought I’d write about this because it’s something that comes up from time to time, as if happiness and optimism are exclusive to the young and naïve.

Oddly, I never hear it from people who are also happy and optimistic. I know someone who’s well into his eighties and who is somehow more energetic and bubbly than I am. I have role models who are wonderfully engaged with work and life. That’s what makes it easy for me to grin and let the stereotyping slide right off my back. I know something many cynical people don’t accept: that it’s possible to be delighted with life without necessarily letting myself be pushed around by it. I know that because other people have shown it’s possible.

I’m patiently waiting for the time when people won’t conflate my happiness with these other confounding factors, when silver hair and wrinkled skin throw happiness into sharper relief. Then people will tell me it’s easy to be happy with such a lucky life. That’s okay. People will always find reasons.

In the meantime, for other people who are in the same boat: Life is pretty good. Some people will tell you that you only think so because you don’t know much of it yet, but you don’t have to believe them. =)