When you are a kid, in most cases the world is bright and sunny, mom and dad are the best, Santa Claus is real, nobody dies even in movies, etc. The next stage of life is when all these illusions start getting shattered. That wasn’t really Mickey Mouse, that was just a Disney employee in a suit. Some of the other kids don’t have a mom, or a dad, or are scared of them. The pony you got doesn’t talk, it just eats and poops.
So when you’re an adolescent, you tend to think you have finally gotten to the bottom of things. For years you had been living a lie, but now this — all these negative things, all these clouds behind silver linings — this is the reality behind the facade. A mature, observant person (like you) is therefore someone who can see the negative (or “realistic”) side of everything. Someone who sees positive things is clearly behind you, at the innocent child stage.
But life doesn’t stop there. As you grow into an adult, you find out it’s not a simple two-step process of positive illusion then negative reality, but more like the Frogurt routine from The Simpsons. When you’re a kid, you think owning a puppy will be all sunshine and roses. Then as you get older and take responsibility, you realize it’s a lot of poop and barking. But then, after a while, you find out all the poop and barking doesn’t matter when he loves you just the same no matter what stupid mistakes you’ve made. Then you realize you didn’t know how much it would hurt when you lost him. Then you get a free Frogurt from the vet. But then the Frogurt contains potassium benzoate.
There is no final answer. Observant, curious people keep finding out more and more about everything in life, both good and bad, because life is fucking complex. The person who stops at stage 2, decides they’ve figured out “the real story” and stops looking has their curiosity stunted at adolescence.
People pride themselves on being cynical because they think it makes them street-smart and sharp-eyed, able to see the truth behind everyone’s bullshit. If it’s a matter of being skeptical, and always thinking and asking questions, that’s not a bad thing.
But a real wise person of the world keeps looking for all the angles – curse or Frogurt, cloud or silver lining. They look for all sides of the story instead of assuming there are only two. Being proud that you are able to jump to a negative answer quickly – that’s just something most people figure out by turning 14.