I’m 29 this month. There I said it! Still can’t actually believe that little Fiona Cooney is almost 30! Where the heck have the last 8 years gone? I always insist that despite getting older in the numerical sense, I still feel exactly the same as I did back when I entered the land of the twenty-somethings. I genuinely believed this…..until now. The truth is I have changed. I’d like to say that these changes are all positive, thus shaping me into the well rounded woman I am today. But that would be a lie, and us mature adults should never tell porky pies!! With that said, I definitely see a confidence and strength in myself that was absent in my teens and early 20’s. However whilst I’ve gained in the inner strength department, I seem to have suffered a significant loss in the area of optimism and positivity. This begs the question, as we get older and supposedly wiser-is it inevitable that our view of the world will take on a more cynical approach? Was our previous optimism really such naivety in disguise?
I used to take pride in the fact that I was no longer the over-friendly, naive little girl of yesteryear. The old me was the kind of girl you could take advantage of and disrespect without fear of consequence. Fiona never stood up for herself and more often than not suffered in silence. Fast forward nearly a decade and the girl you see today is a far cry from her predecessor. Although I still consider myself the fun-loving friendly sort-my approach to disrespect, whether it be to me or to those around me, is a little different. For better or worse I no longer have the ability to silence my inner vigilante. I'm definitely proud of how far I've come, and often ridicule the old Fiona. She was a weak, pathetic version of me, one that I was happy to see the back of. It felt like I was starring in my own version of Muriel’s Wedding. I was the new and improved Mariel and was dammed if I’d let the old one creep back in.
It’s only lately that I’ve started to change the way I view the previous version of Fiona. Yes she was a little naive and perhaps too soft at times. But was she really that bad? Does she actually deserve the level of shame I associate with her? I don’t think so. For one thing she exuded a level of positivity that the new me can only envy. I remember a past employer of mine once asking if I was on drugs because I was happy all the time! So how do I get her back? I know youth and optimism go hand in hand, so I shouldn’t expect to have the same outlook as I did when I was younger. But at the same time I don’t want to go on feeling like this either. It’s like a negative little alien life form has taken over my body- altering my state of mind at a slow rate so as not to raise suspicion. Change can be a subtle little bugger, it’s only when you compare your current behaviour to that of your past that you realise just how much you’ve changed.
These days, instead of seeing the best in people I instantly assume the worst. To be fair it’s hard not to when day after day you encounter ignorant, obnoxious human beings. I find today’s youth particularly disturbing. They seem to lack a certain level of restraint and respect. It’s as if nothing scares them, not their elders, not even the authorities. With that said, I’ve also come across some genuinely lovely, well-mannered youngsters. I guess that’s the key, ignore the bad, focus on the good. By paying attention to everything that’s wrong with the world around you, it’s easy to forget how much good there is. Some days I would start work feeling great, however all it would take was one rude customer to completely alter my mind set. It didn’t matter that the majority of people I encountered that day were lovely and appreciative, all I could think of was that one vile person. In a sense I allowed their negativity to rub off onto me. So how do I stop this happening in the future? Perhaps it would help if I thought of these nasty little specimens as ‘negative aliens’ hell bent on transforming me into one of them, like something out of ‘The Body Snatchers’. I could use my invisible shield of positivity to fight them off, maintaining my optimistic outlook. Kill them with kindness so to speak. It’s definitely worth a try and a lot cheaper than mind altering substances. So the next time you find yourself being drawn into negativity, remember the aliens can’t get you if you don’t let them. Bring forth your shield of positivity and fight for right to remain an eternal optimist!!!