The academic advantages of pessimism
Despite brainstorming countless ways to make this article insightful and having re-edited it several times, I have prepared myself for the possibility that readers might find my writing tedious and unhelpful. Similarly, prior to exams, my mind keeps conjuring up scenarios how I might mess up. Pessimism makes me think of innumerable setbacks instead of what can go right.
Optimism is so highly regarded that being a young pessimistic person is deemed "ominous" for our life and academics. However, the key takeaway is that if pessimism makes you understand why something might go wrong and look for ways to prevent that, it can be a positive quality after all. This mentality of hoping for the best while expecting and preparing for the worst is "defensive pessimism", which can sometimes have tangible academic benefits.
Performing under pressure
Suppose, you have a due paper or exam that you are ill-prepared for. As a pessimist, you assume the worst outcome. The upside is that you voluntarily relinquish the need to perform exceedingly well. Since your results cannot go further downhill than your predictions, you reassure yourself that you can only march upwards from here. When pessimism convinces you that you cannot perform worse, enabling you to prepare accordingly, the brain functions better during important events.
Coping with academic inferiority complex
As students, we often find our hard work be unrewarded or fall short of expectations. This leads to lingering self-doubt or feeling incompetent in comparison with our peers. However, defensive pessimists have an easier time acknowledging the fact that there might always be someone who is better than them at academics. Pessimistic students, knowing their limitations and capabilities, gauge how much control they have over own situation instead of fixating on others' performance.
Optimism aims for success under any circumstance. Consequently, this brings on anxiety to accomplish that. Contrarily, pessimists intensively weigh their probability of success. Rather than festering unrealistic results, pessimism prioritises evaluating vulnerabilities. Pessimistic students find redirecting anxiety into consistent effort to evade improbabilities more fruitful than expecting to excel at something overnight, which provides a sense of control amidst the anxiety.
Encourages consistent preparation
Optimism sequesters weaknesses so that nothing can fundamentally go wrong. Whereas the doom and gloom whispers, "What if the teacher sets a difficult question? What if you forget what you've studied?" It necessitates focusing on your deficiencies, anticipating setbacks and making concrete plans to circumvent ill-outcomes. Is it not better to be overprepared for what might be an easy test than being underprepared for a difficult one?
Keeps expectations in check
Perpetual academic stress and disappointments can lead to burn-outs. Pessimism protects you from the let-downs of subpar results because you started off expecting the worst outcome. That way, you can strive to make amends and do better without the burden of expectations weighing you down.
It's okay to be the person who notices the cloud in a silver lining. However, it is untenable to despair due to pessimism. Make sure you do not self-sabotage yourself and put effort into self-reflection.
PositivePsychology.com (August 14, 2017). The Upside of Defensive Pessimism: The potential benefit of anxiety
Nuzha forgives people for pronouncing her name wrong and wallows in books and anxiety. Suggest her fiction at [email protected]