You definitely came across this question when someone was trying to determine whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist. You’ve learned that to make a good impression, you should say that it’s half full, when in fact the glass is simply just as half full as it is half empty.
In my work line, I’m not allowed to give a boring answer such as “it’s half full” with a giant smile on my face trying to convince the person I’m answering that I’m a happy-go-lucky optimist.
I’m a copywriter. I get briefed by a client who knows his/her glass is half empty, to find a way to convince the consumer that it’s actually completely full. The consumer and I both know that my client has no intention of completely filling this half-empty glass. S/he is only interested in the consumer thinking that it’s full.
After butting heads with the client, accounts, and planning for a period of time, I decide that I have no excuse but to think of some ideas. I read the brief, I pick up the glass to look at it from all different angles, I put my feet up on a desk to start thinking, and I drift away wondering what the height of the Eiffel tower might actually be.
The day before the presentation I realise I’m about to embarrass myself having prepared nothing. Yet after days of googling random facts about the Eiffel tower, my knowledge of it has become quite impressive. “Why couldn’t this have been my assignment?” I begin to wonder.
I grab my pen and place it on my notebook swearing not to lift it up till I have something written down. I stare at the glass and pray for an idea as I battle to stay focussed. The struggle has never been more real, but I refuse to give up. Seen that I’ve done it before, I know that I can do it again.
Suddenly, I feel the hairs on my arms raising. As I get goosebumps all over my body, I feel a little tingling in my brain. The idea has finally hit me. It’s in my brain and it’s ringing like an old telephone that is receiving an urgent call. “Why is a light bulb the symbol for an idea?” I start to wonder again. “Focus, Fadi! Focus!” I scream to myself. I start to put the idea in words. That’s when it begins to grow and become realised into a full journey.
At this point, I’m reminded why I love this job. It’s that moment of inner-stardom that erases everything else I’ve been through. All the abuse I’ve endured during my childhood and teen years doesn’t seem to matter now. I couldn’t care less that my chronic illness won’t let me live as long as most people do, because most people don’t get to experience the high I’m experiencing at this glorious moment. More than ever, I’m alive.
Why does everyone expect only one of two answers? Better yet, why expect an answer at all? Maybe it’s better to tell a story or create one around the glass that makes it so much more than a glass of water. Half or full, what matters is the story it tells you.