I am stressed. I can feel it in the stiffness of my neck, the ache behind my eyes. It makes my breaths feel more shallow, and it keeps me up at night. I am stressed, and I am trying to deal with it.

Along with various breathing and meditation exercises, I am trying to identify what exactly is causing me this anxiety, and to work through it.

It’s not overly difficult to come up with a list.

Along with the vast amount of change that I have recently experienced, I am currently waiting on a response to an application for a school program for next year. As the date for registration is tomorrow, I am extremely concerned not to know which program I will actually be enrolled in, concerned about how my schedule will be affected, and feeling generally stranded in the unknown - a place that I have never been comfortable.

These worries have brought others into the light, competing with each other for company. Thoughts about the future plague me, and all the while I miss my friends, the people who help it all make sense, so many of them a country away.

So I have identified the problem. Perhaps not in it’s entirety, but enough of it. I know that there are various stressors in my life, and I know that they are affecting me.

But as I look at each issue individually, it becomes difficult to see why I am growing upset over it. Not because the issues aren’t legitimately stressful, but simply due to my usual approach to them.

I used to consider myself an optimist. I skipped through the world, looking for and finding the good in every situation. And I still do see silver linings. But when I take an online quiz and it asks whether I am an optimist or pessimist, I now click the latter. Because, while I work to make the best of every situation, I find myself expecting more bad than good.

And that’s something that I had just accepted as a part of myself. But right now, that label doesn’t seem to fit.

Because if I truly expect disappointment, then I wouldn’t feel so let down and frustrated when things don’t seem to be working out. It wouldn’t cause stress, to contemplate a future that isn’t quite what I had hoped for, it would merely cause resignation.

Clearly, there is a seed, buried deep beneath the cynicism, of optimism. A part of me must still believe that everything will work out somehow, if I work hard enough, if I hang in there for long enough, and that everything will make sense again. It will all have been meant to be.

And that part of me feels let down, when everything feels like it’s a struggle.

But I must say, there’s something reassuring about knowing that that part of me still exists. That I do still have faith. That I believe that things will work out.

As difficult as the stress is, and as much as I dislike feeling stalled, I’ll gladly take the occasional physical and emotional aches as proof of that rose tinted kernel inside of me.

Because it is what allows me to conjure such fantastic dreams, and find beauty and meaning in the most ordinary situations.

It gives me something to look forwards to.

It gives me hope.