Life is all about perspectives. Be it with a half-full glass of water, a half-empty Nutella jar, truth is that reality is all in our hands and is shaped according to the way we decide to perceive it. And isn’t that true for anything that happens to us? From a failed trip to a place, to a shot of serendipity coming our way, we have the power of choosing the way in which we see things, and either use them as a way to bring us down or as another push to aim higher.

This morning, while riding my bike to University, tiredness was getting the best of me and, revelling in the rare sunshine bestowed upon rainy Scotland by some divine miracle, I decided to crank up my volume, take my hands off the bike and close my eyes. Not the most responsible way of riding a bike in the city, but you know what they say… yolo. So fast forward ten seconds into my reckless bliss, I opened my eyes again to find myself cycling right in the middle of the road – a big road. I quickly steered my bike to the left side (UK driving hello), and let a car drive past me. As it did, the owner turned to me and said something. Now, being the shortsighted, headphones-wearing person that I am, I somehow think he smiled and said “thank you” to me. On a more thorough examination of the scene though, I started thinking it might have been a “fuck you” accompanied by an angry face which I naively mistaked for a smile. Undecided between the two options, I settled for a smile to the driver and kept on riding.

Now as I finished my ride to University while replaying the scene in my head (as I do), I couldn’t let go of the internal debate on what exactly the man had said to me. Sliding down the philosophical hole, I started wondering: when should we settle for a “thank you” instead of a “fuck you”? If it doesn’t have any repercussions on your life, does it really matter to know the truth when you can just tell yourself a brighter story?

I am a big believer in truths, whether good or bad. Always seeking out the most honest version of events, I spent most of my life replaying scenarios in my head and making out the worst outcomes, convincing myself that everything that happened had inherently negative attributes and rarely giving myself the benefit of the doubt. But don’t get me wrong – I don’t consider myself a pessimist: I like to think that there is always a way to solve things and that we can always aim higher and be achievers if we put in enough effort. However, I have always been the harshest judge of myself, never allowing myself any positive feedback unless I had complete certainty of it and never deluding myself with possibilities unless I knew things for sure. I didn’t want to live in a fantasy and always thought it was better to believe in the worst outcome, in order to get stronger rather than disappointed.

Yet, as the incident this morning kept nagging at my brain more than it should have, I started thinking that maybe it’s not fair to be so harsh on ourselves. They say ignorance is bliss and I do not believe in that at all, yet if the choice is between a “thank you” and a “fuck you”, what’s the harm in seeing the brighter side and avoid putting ourselves down? If it has the power of keeping our mood intact, why shoot ourselves down with negative possibilities which we will never be certain of anyway?

This doesn’t simply apply to careless driving, but to all sorts of things. Although I strongly support critical thinking rather than unfounded positivity, I do think that in life we should perhaps be a bit more supportive towards ourselves. Some of you might not have this problem, but I know many people like me do and I think it’s time we stop placing obstacles in our way and start kicking them out of the playing field. I know it’s easier said than done, but one can only try, am I right?

Putting an end to this long philosophical quest, as always the question mark falls on your heads: do you agree on giving ourselves more leniency when facing life? And when, on the other hand, is it time to stop hearing “thank you” and read things as they are: a big, fat “fuck you” right in the face?

Hope you’re all having a lovely day and you are riding your bikes safely,

Elena

P.S. I handed in my final Bachelor Thesis so for lack of appropriate photos, here’s a picture of that on the cover.

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