Welcome to my world
A practicalist? Yeah, I made that word up. I’ve made up a lot of words and phrases over the years. Largely because I have a creative nature but also because I sometimes struggle to explain my nontraditional world view with every-day language.
So, I’m a practicalist. Feel free to use my word.
There use to be a lot more of us, practicalists, that is, but then again, my memory is probably tainted by a few nostalgic stories of my grandparents and parents scrimping and pinching pennies. When I’m thinking clearly, I soon realize that there has always been a fair portion of people who don’t have a practical bone in their bodies.
I once believed that I was an idealist. Eventually I came to realize that because I register high on the empathy scale, I really care about those who suffer, I confused empathy with idealism.
Turns out I’m more of a pragmatist than an idealist.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that my practical nature was made possible by my pragmatism. I don’t have to get 100% of what I want to call it good day. I can settle for 70% which makes me quite a lucky person. I’ve never gotten 100% of what I want. Maybe you have but not me. Never. Maybe my ability to consider 70% a win makes me more flexible.
Flexibility is a great quality all on its own. The world was not created with my happiness in mind.
So with the help of a few collected and invented vocabulary words, I’ve also edged a little closer to experiencing fleeting moments of self awareness, an almost impossible state of mind to achieve.
Because I’m a practicalist, I’m able to dodge a few bullets in life with a little more ease. I also have better luck at not making the same mistake twice. I hate cleaning up messes, even my own.
That really rubs a practicalist the wrong way.
I think at the core of my practicality lies two main issues. I don’t like to waste time and money and I don’t like to clean up messes. If there’s a hard way or an easy way to do something, I’ll usually go with the easy way. That’s not true of idealists.
Because an idealist expects 100% of what they want, they often have no choice but to pick the hard way.
Now, I freely admit that because I’m a practicalist who is also a pragmatist, which I’ll refer to from here on out as a PP, I often am put in a position where I must give in to an idealist even when their ideas are impractical. They’re not very flexible, you see.
I hate to waste time trying to change someone who finds changing their minds hard to do.
So, I give in and settle for a little less than perfect, but my peace of mind is the trade off. I contend that to argue with anyone who has a fixed way of viewing the world with a limited ability to compromise, and also experiences great physical discomfort when they are forced to let go of their idealism is a waste of time. My time.
I let them think they won the fight.
After all, if they keep pushing, maybe one day they’ll get their way. I will be happy for them. It could even benefit me. I never begrudge a victory for humanity.
In the meantime, I’ll be plugging along, leading by example, but not expecting to get 100% of what I want.
My practical approach to problem solving could serve as a model for getting through life with fewer personal upheavals, but most likely no one will find my approach that glamorous.
I’ll be driving the old car that’s paid off, living in the smaller home that’s paid off, avoiding relationships with toxic people, and finding ways to save time and headaches. It’ll seem like I’ve got it made to my acquaintances because I make it look easy to not get 100% of what I want.
They see only the rewards, less debt and early retirement, but not the hundreds of things that I had to give up along the way.
I appear to be a minimalist to those who can’t resist taking on another car payment because they can only see themselves in a snazzy new car. They have no idea, however, that I’ve not only given up the flashy car but the second glass of wine, the meal out, the new shoes, and the swanky resort.
I could easily avoid ALL future wars, too.
I see war as so destructive as to rarely make the prize gained worth the suffering, loss, and waste. I would be looking for ways to get 70% of what I want because losing 100% of what I need seems like shooting myself in the foot.
That’s not a reasonable trade off.
I would be great at monitoring a debate except I’d know from the start that the debate would never end with one side convincing the other side to change their minds. It would end up being a waste of my time. Even though I enjoy words, writers are like that, and can spar with the best verbal warriors, it tends to make me anxious and upset rather than exhilarated and charged.
I’m also an introvert which means that encounters with other people, even pleasant encounters, tend to exhaust me rather than recharge my batteries.
I think that, too, has made it easier for me to be a practicalist. Toxic relationships are easier to avoid if you actually can’t stand to be in the company of people in the first place.
Achieving even a small measure of self awareness is an interesting process.
Sometimes, we learn things about ourselves that make us a tad proud. At other times, we may discover a quirk that we’d be better off without. Unfortunately, it’s as hard as hell to change ourselves even if the change would benefit us.
I’m no exception.
I’m also no saint. I am who I am. Popeye once said that. I’m old enough to remember him as well as agree with his level of self awareness. I’m wired the way I’m wired through genetics and personal experiences. So are you. I’m an introvert who solves problems like a pragmatist and makes most decisions with an eye to practicality, a PP if you will.
Hence my new word, practicalist. Yep, that’s me. Who and what are you?
Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.