When I was little, my grandfather owned a video store. He used to send us tapes that were no longer in use, so most of the Disney videos we owned had big orange stickers asking us to “Be Kind, Rewind” on them. Most of them were the live-action movies from the ’60s and ’70s. Pete’s Dragon, Thomasina, Bedknobs and Broomsticks. I have more vivid memories of these than I do of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.
My favorite was always Pollyanna. I was drawn to this story because I had this fascination with orphans. My favorite books during my childhood (Anne of Green Gables, especially) centered around children who had lost their parents and found themselves in completely different circumstances than the ones into which they were born. I’m not really sure where this came from as I never really wanted to leave my parents (I didn’t even rebel much as a teenager). But there was something thrilling to me about these orphan tales. Never mind that Pollyanna’s aunt was cold and unloving at first. The scenes of her trying on pretty dresses and eating watermelon at the church bazaar were enough for me to want to walk around in her shoes for a while.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that one of the things I internalized from watching that movie over and over was this idea that it is better to look on bright side than to focus on the darkness. Obviously, that is the main take-away from that story. But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t be that upbeat all the time. I’ve written about this before. And while I want to train myself to think differently about things, I know that the goal I have to focus on the positive above all else is just completely unrealistic. So why do I hold myself up to these ridiculous standards?
The truth is, I suffer from black-and-white thinking. Things are either good or bad, easy or hard, happy or sad. It has always been that way. I don’t feel comfortable in the gray areas. I want to fall on one end of the spectrum and stay there. And as much as I know that life doesn’t work that way, I still hold myself to impossible standards. Any time I fall short, I take it as a failure rather than an opportunity to learn and grow.
I need to find a balance between striving to be the person I want to be and accepting the person that I am. I still want to adjust the way I think about certain things (particularly related to this move) so that I can get through each day without focusing on everything I left behind (believe me, I have spent enough time doing that). But I need to stop beating myself up when the darkness creeps in. Just because I don’t see the world through rose-colored glasses all the time doesn’t make me a horrible person.
Sometimes the lenses are shades of blue.
Sometimes they are so dark that I can’t see what’s right in front of me.
Sometimes they are so clear that I feel like I am seeing things exactly as they are, in technicolor hues that make me appreciate just how strange and beautiful the world is.
And that’s ok.
Ultimately, it’s probably even better.