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What Is an Idealist?

The Highs and Lows of Being an Idealist

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who don't care what people think of them and those who do. As much as I hate to admit it, I fall in the latter camp. I'm terribly self-conscious and always worry about how I'm coming across to others or what they really think of me.

Sound a bit paranoid? Welcome to the life (or should I say mind) of an idealist. We're a breed of people who see the world as what it could be rather than what it really is. Because, in an ideal world, people wouldn't think you're too uptight, too timid, or too boring. In an ideal world, there's no reason you shouldn't have that dream job, dream home, or dream partner. I'm an idealist to the core, and while it definitely has some advantages in life, it can also be incredibly trying. Below are the most common ups and downs of wanting everything to be better.


  • Love (or lack thereof) hurts. I can't even count the amount of times I've shied away from what could've been a great relationship all because something about the guy wasn't what I hoped it'd be and I just couldn't live with it. Sometimes I'm too scared to give someone a chance for fear I'll end up falling for someone that doesn't fit the bill. I mean, this is a partner we're talking about; they've got to be the cream of the crop, right? (Otherwise, what will people think?!) A very unhealthy attitude to have, I know.
  • You're a chronic overthinker — from wondering if your boss actually took that comment the wrong way to whether it seems like you're trying too hard by wearing a particular outfit. Sometimes it's as if everyone's out to get you.
  • It's hard to let go. When you're faced with a less-than-perfect outcome for something, it can be seriously hard to accept it and move on. I always end up being overly engrossed with the how and the why, refusing to believe that a certain crappy situation is, in fact, real. My parents learned early on they have to give it to me straight: "Not everything is rainbows and unicorns."
  • You are your own worst critic. When it comes to standards, yours are way up there. Because of these high expectations, you end up not having a lot of confidence in yourself. Sometimes you set yourself up to fail.
  • You can be on the reserved side. It's important that others think well of you, so you take care in what you say and do and tend to be more of an internalizer. It's helpful when you actually need to bite your tongue, but in other situations, not so much.


  • You get the best because you don't settle. There's always an article that could've been written better, a grade that can be one-upped, or more thought that could've gone into that project. You have incredible work ethic, and this keeps you on your A game at school and work. When it comes to relationships, you'll (hopefully) end up with someone amazing you love to pieces, because mediocre just won't cut it.
  • It makes you a very caring person. Happiness is a top priority for everyone you know. When people are unhappy, you feel unhappy, so if something is somehow getting someone down, you do your best to help find a solution to fix it, fast.
  • You have better friends. Something I've realized as I've gotten older is how much I've come to value meaningful, authentic relationships over knowing as many people as possible. Knowing you have a close circle of people that have your back and who you can talk to about anything is incredibly comforting and something to strive for.
  • You fight for what you believe in. Dedication and willpower are big driving forces in your life, and once you put your mind to something, there's little that can stop you.
  • You dream big — and then some. You're not afraid to aim high, and your mind is a minefield of possibilities of what could be, both professionally and personally. Dr. Seuss said it best: "Oh, the places you'll go!"
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sisilia Piring
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