You’re probably reading this because recently, something didn’t go your way. You’re probably reading this because you’re trying to figure out how to pick yourself back up again and recover from this loss, however big or small it was. You’re probably reading this because you’re a human being. The [horrible, creepy, great] director Woody Allen once said “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”. There are sentiments like that in the Bible too, and on Pinterest, and on your great grandma’s walls full of cross-stitchings because it’s in our nature to plan out our lives. It’s in the universe’s nature to not listen.
We all have ideas in our head of how our lives are going to go. Married by a certain age, dream job by a certain age, maybe babies sometime in there too. Your plan probably looks a little different than mine, but it’s there. You have goals and you have deadlines and you think that you can make things happen. The good news is that you can try. And I bet you try really hard. You hustle, you sweat, you do all you can to get the great job, to move to the city you’ve been fantasizing about for years. You go on plenty of first dates, hoping they’ll turn into second dates, hoping maybe they’ll turn into a loving long term relationship someday soon. I see you doing the work. No one doubts that you’re trying.
The reason you’re here, the reason I’m writing this right now, is because it doesn’t always work out. As a matter of fact, despite my sunny optimistic nature often clouding my judgment, I can tell you that most of the time it doesn’t work out. You applied to dozens of jobs, but you get denied from all of them. Or worse, you were ignored. You can’t find an apartment in that great city and you realize you probably don’t have enough money saved to move anyways. Your new relationship seemed great at the start, but now it’s doomed because they are smothering you in plans and you just need time to breathe. You were hoping and praying you’d get accepted to that grad school, but you just got the pathetically thin rejection letter in the mail yesterday. Or whatever it is! You wanted it, so you tried and you hustled and you put the work in, but it just didn’t happen. I understand how hard that is. I also know you’ll be okay.
The important part of this rejection/denial/break up is how you react right now. The important part is just how resilient you are. It’s crucial that you don’t let the disappointment define this experience, but rather, you take this heartbreak and you pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and head out again in a new direction. I know that you have feelings. Feelings are okay. Feelings are good. Feelings are how we know we’re alive. Take your time to be sad. It may take a week or months or years to grieve the job you lost, the relationship you lost, the baby you lost, but open yourself up to those emotions. Let the sadness wash over you; be engulfed by the rage of your perfectly laid plans going down the drain. There will probably be a whole rollercoaster of emotions that you ride through and that’s okay. You’re allowed to feel however you feel. Some people may try to rush the process and tell you to pick your head up too soon, but don’t be ashamed of your disappointment. The disappointment is proof that you’re invested in your future. There’s no shame in wanting.
You’re not a failure just because this one thing didn’t work out. You’re not a failure just because this series of events didn’t go your way. I’m asking and begging for you to embrace it instead. You probably have an inkling as to why they didn’t offer you the job, and the reason why that relationship die has been staring you in the face for the past few weeks. What you need to do now is to learn from it. You need to take an inventory of yourself and see what you can do differently this time. See what you can do more of, do better with, give more attention to.
You need to take the time to check in with yourself and see if you even want the same things anymore. If you do, take this experience as a lesson for what to do better next time and run with it. Sure, you may need to stay at a dead end job for a little bit longer, or you may be completely unemployed. You may be lonely for a little bit until you find a good relationship. Or, you may actually have no clue why it didn’t work out. Things seemed perfect, but then all of a sudden, they weren’t. Those heartbreaks are sometimes the worst because it’s all out of your control. You’re still in the dark and you’re not sure how you’ll ever get out. Either way, please go with it. Choose to make the best of this. You have the opportunity to reevaluate your life and your choices and you either came out with the same end goals, strengthened with a new resolve, or you dreamed up a whole set of new ones. Pick up the pieces and put yourself back together as you hit the road again. You’re strong. You’re resilient. You can come back from this.