So earlier this week I wrote about how being sad can be a good thing, and how I realized that in the face of massive disappoint I realized I had to put my big girl panties on and focus on the future. And I meant it. Sort of. I had pulled my big girl panties on, but I was still lounging in sweatpants.
Baby steps guys.
Today I really believed myself. Today I honestly accepted that this is a good thing. Not the thing I wanted, but a good thing.
I also rolled my eyes at how cheesy I was being.
What really hit me though was how my thinking had shifted from “this is what sucks” to “this is what I got out of this.”
“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them”
― Denis Waitley
I realized how excited I was for this next year.
I thought about how my life would change, and how that was totally awesome.
What did I get?
- I got time to think about what I want to do for the next seven years
- I got the opportunity to fulfill my dream of a marathon before 25 without trying to balance it with school
- I got the time to learn new skills that will make me a better candidate, researcher, and psychologist
- I got the opportunity to start on a new project that is right in line with what I would like to do for the rest of my life.
- I have a chance to volunteer – to give back to the community I have been a part of for the last 4 years
- I have a chance to do a trial run of my big kid life
- I can sleep once and a while (possibly the most exciting thing other than the marathon, but my priorities are a little scrambled right now)
- I realized a lot about who I am – I realized how to answer all the questions I stumbled on in one of my grad school interviews, because in the face of disappointment, I was reminded why I was willing to face that disappointment in the first place and who I am when I do face disappointment
- I now have a chance to explore what might interest me in terms of research. I can dabble in neuro, do a spell with eating disorders, and jump back to depression and anxiety – I can really explore outside a textbook what is cool and what I want to invest in
I went on and on in my head, but I highly doubt you decided to read this so you could hear how happy I was with myself. How I had figured out to apply my capitalistic values to disappointment, so that even though I was frustrated, my frustration paid dividends.
What I wanted to talk about, was that when the tears don’t work, the bright side can be a little handy. And how it’s easy to be disappointed, to feel sad about what you didn’t get, but it’s also easy to think about it in the reverse. Little things can make you happy, and we can’t have it all but we can get things out of anything if you work hard enough at it. Just might take some brain workouts – some testing of cognitions, balancing of thoughts with realities, and learning to reframe your world.
In psychology we talk about mental contrasting, the idea of contrasting what you want or who you want to be with what you have or who you are. This has been applied to a variety of areas, recently I’ve been reading about how handy it is in dieting (term paper
bashing fixing the diet industry) – a study showed that when you just think about what you want, when you imagine the dieting outcome, you don’t get anywhere. What you need to do is look at where you want to end up and then compare it to where you are. The theory is that this will spur action, because it highlights the discrepancy and need for action.
And it’s the same thing here – realizing what I wanted and that I didn’t have it sucked, but comparing where I was to where I wanted to be, showed me how to get there. And then there was the realization that beyond the changes I would work on in the future, there was a hidden opportunity. All these dreams I ignored, I could have those too. I realized I had to slow down and smell the roses. I was focused on the me I wanted to be 10 years from now and sort of ignored the me I wanted to be now. Add it to the list of bonuses from this sucky moment.
We live in a culture that doesn’t particularly like to tolerate failure, we don’t like to be frustrated, disappointed, sad, or feel anything that doesn’t feel like a million bucks. But I realized today, failure isn’t the falling down… jokes, I’m not going to be that cheesy twice in one post. No today I realized that failure isn’t really a thing… it’s… oh goodness, almost went to the cheesy window analogy.
This is tough.
Being positive about crappy situations, is criticized and mocked, because while totally true, we as society hate failure so much that to call it anything but sucky just isn’t acceptable. You’re being naive, overly optimistic, blindly faithful. Which is what actually sucks.
I truly believe that failures don’t have to be failures, they can be good things, they can be a chance to change what you’re not happy about.
So I ended up cheesy. And not in a delicious creamy pasta sort of way. But in the end I also ended up in a blazer and skinny jeans, ready to talk about my successes rather than failures, what I did for the last year, and share with the world (or you know the honours programs and random people looking for snacks) that sometimes what you didn’t expect is even cooler than what you expected.
So I challenge you dear readers, to take the thing that sucks, and think about what rocks. Maybe not the bright side of the bad situation, but maybe just something unrelated that balances the books. It can’t be all bad, I challenge you to think about the small goods.
“Everything that is past is either a learning experience to grow on, a beautiful memory to reflect on, or a motivating factor to act upon.”
― Denis Waitley