I am far, far from an all-wise being as wisdom comes from experience. I hope that this post does not come off as condescending.
As I learn and grow, I hope to write about my ‘life lessons’ and what they’ve taught me. By doing this, I hope I help others who may have gone, or are going through something similar. I hope to change their mind-set if it is negative. I am also helping myself by writing my lessons objectively. It’s a bit therapeutic.
Life is a teacher that will never go away. It is the best teacher you will ever get, and it utilises the ‘tough love’ method a lot. This is one teacher who is hell bent on you becoming the best version of yourself, no matter what.
All of us are lacking in certain aspects of our character – these life lessons help us build the traits that we are missing. These lessons are critical and teach us more than any school ever could. If we pass, the results are bountiful and life-long. You step further up the ladder, become a better person and more self-aware. Your thinking will change, you will evolve. You become closer to reaching your potential.
I’ve lived a short life but I’ve had my first major lesson – failure. I have always been a very, very high achiever – all throughout my life. When it counted the most however, I failed miserably. Fell flat on my face. The worst part was disappointing those who expect the most from you. To hear the disappointment, to see the disappointment on their faces, it was the worst feeling in the world. It was a very alien feeling too, I’m not exaggerating – I had never known failure prior to this.
I had one life goal that I was pursuing. This is what everyone and I had decided I would do. I’d never considered any other path and then suddenly, everything changed in an instant.
When I failed, it wasn’t due to lack of hard work. I worked hard, I tried to motivate myself but I was very depressed. I was depressed at a time when it was crucial for me to be completely healthy – physically and mentally. For those that have gone through depression, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You isolate yourself, withdraw; you lose interest in your hobbies and passions. You don’t want to talk to anyone. Your personality fades. You’re miserable and just want to stay in bed all day. I hope this doesn’t sound as an excuse, believe me, I really, really tried.
I hid my depression from my family and friends. I’d put on a fairly ‘cheery’ image but it would exhaust me. I didn’t like to tell anyone because I didn’t want to become vulnerable. It was probably the worst decision I made. After my failure, when people asked, ‘What happened? What went wrong?’ The whole truth came out, but there’s a time and place for the truth and the time had long gone in my case. To some who I confided in, they thought it was an excuse. I don’t blame them, it probably sounded like that.
See, here’s the thing with ‘tough love’ – you are not spoon fed. You go one way or another. Either you learn, or you don’t. If you don’t, you fall into a spiral of negativity and it becomes hard to get out. Only you can help yourself. You can only rely on yourself for your sense of self-worth, achievement and happiness.
Through this failure lesson, I learnt one thing about myself. I’m actually a pretty strong person and fairly level-headed. Yes, I was initially shocked and upset but one day I just said to myself – ‘You either wallow in self-pity or you get off your backside and become proactive. There’s a lesson to be learnt from this, learn and move on. Only you can change your position, so get moving.’
I got moving. I had to push myself to make certain changes; I had to really force myself at times. I did a lot of self-reflection and slowly came out of my depression. My true personality surfaced, my confidence came back. I became happier, my natural optimism returned. I was able to converse normally and actually start conversations.
I threw myself into work which helped a lot in restoring my personality. I’m now going to start something new – it’s a fresh start and I’m very, very excited about it.
I was still pursuing my old goal for a while (after I beat my depression) as there is always more than one route to the same destination. However, after a lot of research and experience, I realised I would have hated it.
That goal wasn’t something that I really wanted, I knew that deep down. It was what others wanted and I was, (still am, at times) a person who lived to fulfil others expectations and dreams. I was what others wanted me to be. Some may say, ‘Oh she’s just trying to make herself feel better by believing that,’ but I’m being completely honest. I still have a chance to pursue that goal but I’ve chosen not to go down that path and I’ve made it clear to those around me. It’s not for me.
There was a quote I read somewhere (I can’t remember where) that said, ‘Failure is life’s way of telling you that your path is not right for you.’ This doesn’t necessarily mean your goal isn’t right for you, just that you need to go down a different route. It may be that the route you sought to go on would not teach you anything. In my case though, I ended up avoiding something that wasn’t right for me.
As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a fresh start coming up in a few months and I’m psyched. I’ve made a personal promise to myself that I’m going to do the best I can, I know I have it in me to do really well. Not just in what’s expected of me, but beyond that. I want to really push myself – there are challenges that I really want to try and overcome and I want to see if I can pull them off.
And what if I can’t pull them off?
Well, failure is just a roadblock. There’s more than one road to the same destination, albeit, in my case, the destination changed and it’s a whole lot more scenic!
Take failure in your stride. It’s never a bad thing like we’re conditioned to think, look at the situation constructively and take from it what’s useful. Learn and apply it. After all, you don’t learn to walk without falling first!