Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Moving Beyond 'No'

It takes courage to pursue a new opportunity. You have to convince yourself that trying is worth the risk of rejection. When you take that risk, get your hopes up, and it doesn’t work out, disappointment invites itself over and becomes a clingy boyfriend/girlfriend. Disappointment is a common experience, but it is one none of us welcomes or enjoys. However, disappointment does have its place in our lives. Our challenge is to take the lesson disappointment comes to teach and not cling to the negativity and fear that often results.

Last year I pursued an opportunity that I considered to be the next logical step in my professional career. I was sure—and I mean sure—that when I decided to go for it, everything would work out. Imagine my surprise when that opportunity was given to someone else. I was shocked, really, but I came home and asked myself, ‘What is the lesson I am supposed to learn?’

After doing some introspection I realized something extremely beneficial. When we are disappointed either two things can happen: we can let the fear of being disappointed again run our lives and lead us to chase complacency or we can accept that we’ve felt disappointment and it wasn’t the worst life occurrence. The sky didn’t come crashing down. Our loved ones didn’t stop loving us. We didn’t stop breathing. We still had tomorrow and when there’s tomorrow, there’s hope. I choose to hope. In fact, being told ‘no’ actually freed me. I realized I had already been rejected. What harm would there be in going for something I really wanted? What would happen if I put myself out there and tried to go for the gusto? Having been told ‘no’ for the safe opportunity made me feel that I could go for the larger-than-life opportunity. I could be told ‘no’ again and be left with what I currently had—a pretty good life. At the same time, there was hope that I could also be told ‘yes.’ What did I really have to lose?

The day I found out I wasn’t going to get the logical, safe, comfortable, and low-risk opportunity I was disappointed. No question. Today, I understand why I needed to be disappointed. That opportunity was not for me and had I been offered it, I would not have had the courage to pursue more. Temporary disappointment can occur when we are limiting ourselves. We often pursue a slight increase when life could be leading us to an enormous one. Don’t be your own speed bump. Don’t allow past disappointment or fear of future disappointment control your actions or limit your vision. Instead, allow yourself to dream larger. You’ve survived disappointment before. If it happens again, you’ll make it. Sometimes we have to be told ‘no’ in order to get the ‘yes’ that is truly meant for us.

On August 21, I am setting sail for a journey around the world! I will be the alumni & development coordinator for Semester At Sea's fall 2011 voyage. I will leave from Montreal and go to Morocco, Ghana, South Africa, Mauritius, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and Cuba. Had I not been told no last year I wouldn't be sailing around the world this year. Sometimes no is best!

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