Why Optimism Rampage?


I'm about to admit something really, rather embarrassing. When I was in high school, I was emo. You know, I cried my heart out while listening to Dashboard Confessional on repeat for no reasonable reason. I had spiky hair and preferred whiny music, band t-shirts, and Converse sneakers. Was emo's popularity due to my generation's post 9/11 society as Andy Greenwald declared? Either way, I saw no problem scribbling depressing poems about the futility of existence in a leather journal between 4th & 5th period. So it may come as a surprise that 10 years later, I find myself writing a blog titled Optimism Rampage. Ok, well the rampage part might not surprise you, but the optimism bit should. 

According to research I made the better choice. The Atlantic's article, "The Benefits of Optimism are Real" states, 

Having a positive outlook in difficult circumstances is not only an important predictor of resilience — how quickly people recover from adversity — but it is the most important predictor of it.

Switching to a positive outlook helped me through many difficult circumstances to the point that I entirely thank my survival on the ability to foster optimism. It has been my greatest lesson, and it was, without doubt, a switch of self-preservation. The kind of switch that has to occur when you find yourself in dire straits, just as Pi reflected on his hopeless situation in The Life of Pi,

I tell you, if you were in such dire straits as I was, you too would elevate your thoughts. The lower you are, the higher your mind will want to soar.

I can relate to Pi. I came out of a traumatic divorce 3 years ago desperately needing optimism. In fact, I didn't just need optimism, I needed an optimism rampage. I was also on the brink of entering the teaching profession (at a Title 1 middle school no less) - a profession in which 4 out of every 10 new teachers quit within a year. I believe teaching is the greatest act of optimism there is. It's believing that the pubescent teens in front of you will one day make the world a better place (despite their inclinations for emo). Then I courageously began a new relationship which demanded a whole new level of optimism and faith. Three years ago was also when I started traveling the world. And it's all proved all my forced optimism correct. The world is bigger and more beautiful than imaginable, and it's full of humans with similar experiences. Humans who overcome obstacles and challenges and inspire me to no end. There are lots of endings and lots of beginnings. 

My personal optimism rampage has led me here to South America. I'm in a new country. I barely know the language. I'm in love. I have trips planned to places I've always dreamed of going. I'm teaching the next generation of creative and kind Colombian (a country whose history craves optimism) leaders. So here's to enjoying the journey, and optimism rampaging on. 


Ashley Peak

Teacher & traveler seeking bright sides and adventures. I recently left my position as a Title 1 middle school teacher in Spokane, WA for a position in Manizales, Colombia teaching English and Geography at a bilingual private school. I'm passionate about education in action, the power of literature, and traveling the world. Optimism Rampage is a place for me to reflect on the adventure. “Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. see the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. Ask no guarantees, ask for no security, there never was such an animal. And if there were, it would be related to the great sloth which hangs upside down in a tree all day every day, sleeping its life away. To hell with that . Shake the tree and knock the great sloth down on his ass.” -Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451