This morning I happened across one of those online what-are-you personality quizzes, of the sort that are always doing the rounds on Facebook, that an old school friend had posted on her wall. Much to my surprise, the quiz felt that I fell squarely into the “idealist” category – I felt certain I was going to end up in the “rational” category.
I always identified myself as an idealist when I was younger. The more time passes, the less I feel that’s accurate. They say that you get more conservative (small c!) as you get older – I think it’s more specific than that: you just get more cynical. It’s hard not to, frankly. As children, we’re taught that human beings are fundamentally good and decent, but I’m sure we can all recall those first few times we discovered that the opposite is sometimes the case; and of course the more time passes, the greater the likelihood that we’ll encounter more such people. There may come a time when – however much you’d like to believe that people are usually honest, reliable and caring for their fellow humans – you feel that more than 50% of the time, that’s not the case. It’s at that point that you decide whether to embrace cynicism or continue to hope for the best. I became a fully-fledged cynic some years ago now. I don’t think those who hope for the best from people are foolish or misguided, because I suppose I still want to believe that myself. But the empirical evidence is pretty slim ;-).
Many people put things like “lifelong idealist”, “hopeless cynic” and so on in their online bios, but I’ve resisted that tendency in recent years, because I don’t really feel able to fully embrace any of the available options. That is, until this morning, when – as is my wont – I found myself playing some Rush, specifically their album Roll The Bones. The closing track, You Bet Your Life, contains a line that I feel sums me up pretty much perfectly.
Rational romantic mystic cynical idealist
So there you have it. Cheers, guys! (And thanks Katie, for kicking all this off in the first place.)