Dealing With the “Downs” of Life

So I’ve been trying to think of a way to make myself feel better after a really shitty thing happened yesterday. My friends will know what this “thing” is, but that’s not important. What is important is what I choose to do now. For those of you that don’t know me, I’ll elaborate a bit. I basically applied for my dream job and I was told no. That’s really it. So on the surface, it may not seem all that upsetting to the outside person. But this is the third time I have applied for this job and obviously it’s the third time they have said no. The worst part is that I have to wait another 2 years if I want to apply again. It’s like the air has been sucked out of my lungs, if that makes any sense at all.

But I am not writing this to get sympathy, and I am probably not even writing this to give advice to anyone… other than myself. For some reason my brain tends to respond better to suggestion when it sees words on paper (or a computer screen). I guess that’s why I have been keeping a journal for most of my life. So… although I hope you see these words as inspirational, they are probably intended more as a way to tell myself what to do.

So my wonderful fiance sent me some photos on Pinterest (yes I am a male and I’m on Pinterest. But I am now out of the closet and I feel fabulous about it). She knew I was having a rough time and she wanted to help me, which is great of course. But what makes her even better is the fact that she knows exactly how to help me, based on the fact that I am a male. Because as much as I want to hear someone say “I understand. That is so crappy”, that doesn’t make me feel better. Men almost never need to hear that. Men don’t need sympathy. They need advice and logic. We see things like this as problems to solve. Because even though half of my brain is depressed and upset right now, the other half of my brain is searching for sensible reasons why this thing happened to me… while trying to find a solution to the problem.
-Sometimes man logic is flawed-
So anyways, back to my Amanda story. She knew that I needed advice more than I needed sympathy. So she sent me some pictures with quotes on them that applied to my situation. But before she even sent me the pictures, she called me and had some pretty incredible things to say. She reminded me that my identity doesn’t have to be focused so much on my career. I don’t have to be “Craig the ____” (insert job title, adjective, whatever). I’ve lived my entire adult life so focused on a single specific goal, and almost every single decision I have made has been made with that goal in mind. It has been all I have ever wanted, but I have not been able to achieve it. So Amanda made me remember that there are other things out there. She reminded me that I can’t live my life hoping that something amazing MIGHT happen one day. Instead of fantasizing about the future that may or may not arrive the way I planned, I should instead focus on what is happening RIGHT NOW, and make the best life I can with what I currently have.

So that is where the picture she sent me comes in. Here are a couple of lines in one of the pictures that had quite the profound effect on the way I think about my life:

Don’t fall in love with potential.
Remember that just because you want it, doesn’t mean it deserves you.

Wow. I don’t know how she found that picture, and I don’t think there are words that would have had more of an impact on me. I realized that I have been “falling in love with potential” for years now. It’s always been about that goal that I’ve been chasing and constantly falling short of. I’ve been chasing this dream.. this “future life”… for so long that I forgot to stop and realize how amazing my current life really is. I fell so in love with what my life could potentially be that I forgot how good it already is. I think sometimes we should just pause and take stock of our lives, asking ourselves some serious questions. Is the thing that happened to you really all that bad? Will it still be affecting you in a year? How about two years? Do you still have friends and family that will love and support you no matter what? Do you still have a warm place to sleep and enough money to buy food every day? When I think about negative things in my life…with perspective…all of the sudden they don’t seem all that bad. These are things I have always tried to remind myself of when I am going through tough times, and right now they are as important as ever. I don’t need “potential”. My life is good already, and yours is too!

The second part to this quote is even better because I think it applies to every person in the world, in one way or another. Wanting something (or someone) doesn’t mean it (or he/she) deserves you. I think this line has a lot to do with self esteem, which is something I have always struggled with. To say that this job doesn’t deserve me? That’s a pretty bold statement, and I would never say that about myself… and my guess is that most people are the same. However, when I actually think seriously about the idea behind this line, it suggests some pretty radical changes in how I view myself. It forces me to think higher of myself than I ever have. Is it possible that this job isn’t good enough for me? How could that be? Is it possible that this person you’re dating (or want to date) isn’t good enough for you?

This is such a backwards way of thinking for so many people these days. We are taught that there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance, and we as a society often view those types of personalities in a more negative way than we should. So for me, it’s strange to actually consider the possibility that this job may not deserve me. I have put it on such a pedestal, like it would be the crowning achievement of my life. And up to now, I have been reminded over and over that I don’t deserve it. So to completely turn my thought process around is strange and unfamiliar. But I really believe that sometimes we just need to give ourselves more credit, and remember that we are better than we think. The world can be a cruel and punishing place that shatters hopes and dreams every single day. But we don’t have to let those failures define us, and we especially don’t have to let them mold our views of what we deserve in life. Maybe the problem isn’t that you aren’t good enough. Maybe the problem is that goal you’ve been chasing for so long isn’t good enough for YOU. Have you ever thought about that?

As I write these words I am literally trying to believe them with all of my might. Although I may not quite believe what I am telling myself, all that matters is that I am trying. So when life stands up and kicks your ass, take a moment to stand back and breathe in. In your mind, list everything that is positive. Think about how awesome your life is, despite what happened to you. You are meant for bigger and better things. Now go out and get them.


2 thoughts on “Dealing With the “Downs” of Life

  1. There are two “losses” here; your loss (not getting hired for the “dream job”) and that of the organization that chose not to hire you (they lost a chance to hire one hell of a guy). Of all the people that know you well I suspect there is only one that would think that the greater loss is yours. That person is you. In time I believe you will come to realize, like the rest of us, that you’ve offered your service to an organization that would be foolish to turn you away. Yet they did just that – giving clear evidence to support the statement made – no matter how much you wanted it that organization likely doesn’t deserve you.

    If they don’t deserve you does that mean you should never try to get in? Certainly not, as you being a part of their organization could only make them better and more deserving of the other great people out there. I do suggest that you continue to reflect on what makes it your “dream job” and if the organization’s values truly are in line with yours.


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