Struggling with Pessimism

Zachary Styles
3 min readApr 18, 2021

Read online.

“If this is the way the rest of the year is going to go, then I’m in for one hell of a ride.”

An awakening

I’ve noticed something over the past year, mainly in the months leading to the end of 2020, and it’s that people are slowly but surely becoming very pessimistic. And the saddest part isn’t seeing it in the familiar faces around me, but rather in the most familiar face of all. The one staring back at me in the mirror.

A confession

I don’t know if maybe things are getting harder or if we’re getting weaker from the burdens of everyday life, or perhaps even both, but I’ve started to notice a few things. Namely, that I’ve become very quick to judge things, very quick to complain, and very quick to excuse something because of something else. Honestly, it’s frustrating, and isn’t that an ironic circle of circumstance?

The smallest things that I used to brush off, now they make me chew my teeth. Someone pushes a little too hard on a nerve and I’m ready to break into tears. Hell, I think the proverbial extra mile is a joke at the moment.

I’m a firm believer that in order to change your circumstances you have to push beyond those circumstances, try harder and seek the greener grass. But that requires more work now than I feel I’m capable of. I think that we like to use our reserves for those extra pushes, but these days things are tougher than ever, and those reserves are dryer than the butt of my jokes (and they’re dry as hell).

Hell, even when I see that spark in others I’ve become prone to extinguishing it.

Recently a friend shared her ambition with a group of us, and as I saw the light of promise and curiosity in her eyes I told her to focus on her skills instead of her ambition because that’s something she can control. I said it before I realised what I was actually saying, and the moment the words left my mouth I felt an overwhelming wave of shame and regret. If the tables were reversed and I was told that, while practically true, it would have snuffed my soul; and that snuff is painful.

It was at this point I realised that something needs to change, drastically.

Something else that I’ve come to realise is that we tend to rest on the shoulders of our support systems (if we’re lucky enough to have one) and use them when our own reserves are low. But now, those shoulders are needing rests of their own. That best friend who you always lean on could also use someone to lean on at the moment. Your dad who always has the best advice could use some advice right about now. And your sibling who you hold onto, they’re holding onto you. We’re all relying on each other like a collapsing house of cards, and it’s showing.

I’m noticing it in my own actions, my own thoughts, and my own quick remarks (sometimes quicker than I have a chance to think them through). And I’m not enjoying it. I hate how pessimistic I’ve become, and I hope that this is just a phase that I can come out the other side of. But in the same vein, perhaps there is an underlying problem I have yet to solve. Maybe I’m feeling like this for a reason. If there is, then I hope I can solve it, or help someone to solve it with me; because if this is the way the rest of the year is going to go, then I’m in for one hell of a ride.



Zachary Styles

Full-time designer, illustrator and lettering artist. Part time lecturer. Part time student. Experiencing the world through words, both written and drawn.