I remember not long ago when my heart was broken by a woman I genuinely wanted to marry. I won’t get into the details, but in my mind, I felt I had found the person that would complement my life. I wanted to work extra hard because of her. Things just seemed to make sense. But when the engagement didn’t happen, it felt as if my life started spinning endlessly. Needless to say, I entered a painful period of depression.
Another time this happened was during my fifth year of college, when I was applying for post-graduation full time work. I thought I had the perfect resume to get hired – a respectable degree backed by Fortune 500 company experiences. There was just no way things could fall through. But I was wrong…by the time Fall hiring had ended, I had nothing to show for it. I had entered another period of uncertainty in my life.
Each problem was different, but what was consistent is the result: in each case, I was forced to re-think the direction in which my life was heading. Granted, it was extremely painful in most cases. However, what was most important was it forced me to re-think whether it would have actually made sense if those problems never happened. Did the chosen path actually make sense, or did I simply do what I thought should be done?
For instance, when I got rejected from all the job interviews, I started another internship, and subsequently took some time off to study abroad in China. I took a long hard look at where my career was headed. It delayed my graduation, but in hindsight it was one of the best decisions I made. Because after taking time to reflect on what happened, my goals had more purpose and meaning, as opposed to having goals just for the sake of having it. When goals have real conviction, it all of a sudden appears to be more easier to obtain. It’s not actually any easier, what changed was my attitude: I decided to not let any obstacle get in my way. The feeling was very exhilarating.
As for love, my breakup made me realize it was okay to want things for myself. Naturally I am more of a giver than taker, but it was almost a necessity to want things for myself – the reason being that balance in life was necessary. My partner and I need to live for each other, it can’t be a one way street.
These two instances are only a few of the many times that setbacks made me realize there was something bigger I needed to see. But what I appreciate most is each one forced me to take a deeper look inside myself. The result was a better understanding of myself and a new appreciation for life.
One thing to remember is that, even when a pot’s content is stirred and disrupted, eventually it’ll stop and be calm again. Everything in the pot will land in a different spot, but will be more balanced. The disruption is only temporary and the only result is clarity.