I retrieved naivety

At 32, I’m proud to say that I have on several occasions been called naive. The first was about 7 years ago on being “let go” by Robbie, a highly urbane and worldly character and my boyfriend of the time. He was a copywriter and I think I’d failed to show enough enthusiasm for the profession, and maybe even pontificated about the sinfulness of pouring his creative energies into inserts for computer magazines. I’d never outgrown my teenage anti-commercial leanings, though admittedly back then they were fuelled by conscience rather than hard fact.

Anyway, because I was excessively tender and soft-centered at the time (unlike now) my self esteem suffered severely, and from that day forth I began to preface every opinion I dared to venture with “This is probably naive, but…”.

But one night a couple of months ago I had the eye-opening revelation that the kind of people who make a habit of calling other people naive must be deeply cynical, a trait I’ve never liked because of its inertia and negativity. But somehow cynicism has become so desirable, and so impressive that cynics are out of the closet and tolerated in public? “Ah, he’s such a cynic”, confided one colleague’s little brother, fondly. “I’m a real cynic”, said a notable academic in my subject area, unapologetically. Maybe it’s because cynicism is associated with discernment, independence, rebelliousness, it has become a quality that people (actually only men in my experience) are often quick to attribute to themselves.

Since I realised that cynics are short on the kind of idealism and optimism I value, I’ve stopped being impressed and no longer indulge them. Sometimes I deliberately misunderstand them and vehemently reject their claim to cynicism, as if they were committing a misplaced act of self-abasement. Sometimes I show sorrow for them, as if they were afflicted. Most often, I just ignore it with ostentatious displays of boredom.

Thank the lord, I retrieved naivety and my own character to boot. All my dessicated cynical readers, you know who you are – green up and put those stars back in your eyes.

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