In recent years, I have found one of my distinct spiritual gifts. It's hope. I always knew I was an optimist, but until a few years ago I never saw it as a spiritual gift. Probably because I always thought spiritual gifts were something more supernatural than this, like speaking in tongues, prophesying, or healing the sick. I thought my optimism was just part of my personality, and that was all there was to it.
What started to change my mind about this was my first full time job. I had always seen myself as either a business owner or an eight-to-fiver, so moving from college and part-time work into the 8-5 scene felt perfectly normal. I enjoyed the new challenge of learning the industry, and I felt like I was part of a group: The Breadwinners.
This went on for several months, and while there were frustrations, I took them all in stride. As I pushed past my first year in this career, things started to feel routine. Learning new things became more about un-learning old things, and the frustrations became obstacles.
I know this happens to everyone who pursues a career, and really to anyone who pursues long-term goals, but one part of my struggles related very specifically to who I am. As the stress of this environment weighed on me, I became something I never thought I would be. I became cynical.
One day, it struck me that I was becoming a cynic. I wondered how I got here, from the cock-eyed optimist I had been for the first 2+ decades of my life. I wondered how I had let something like a job change me to the core. I wondered if it had broken me.
The last thing I wanted was to become a bitter old man who worked late 5 days a week just to come home and gripe about it over a stiff drink. I didn't want to become a slave to my career. I didn't want it to control me.
First, I tried to find ways to escape from work. Like exercising and pursuing hobbies. This helped for a short time, but I still complained about my day every day, and it felt like I couldn't stop.
What really changed was understanding who I really was. I'm not just an optimistic person. Somehow even when I feel cynical, I never expect the worst. I always hope things will change for the better.
The older I get, the more I've learned to manage my hope. I've learned that hoping for the best doesn't guarantee you'll get it, but it helps you take positive steps to get there. I've learned that it's ok to be disappointed when something I've hoped for doesn't happen.
Through this hope, I've moved past my cynicism (and it doesn't hurt that I moved out of the job that brought out my cynicism in the first place). I still vent about things I don't like from time to time, but I don't dwell on those things. I've learned that hope is stronger than the negative circumstances in my life.
I expect to write more on this topic in the future. Hope is a big part of who I am, and since it's my biggest gift, I want to share it with anyone who will listen.
Hoping for the best,