So, you had a grand plan to get your life on track— but it just didn’t work out. Our capitalistic world demands perfection, and failure can certainly send someone through the stages of grief; including denial, anger at yourself and others, even depression. A detour to your foolproof plan can be world-shattering. Thankfully, you are far from the first to experience a disheartening failure to pave a path, and you still have the ability to succeed.
Just a post ago, I thought I had it all figured out. I had myself convinced, after dropping out of college, I’d develop the life of my dreams in only six months. I thought I’d travel the country working on a cruise ship, come home, buy a house, and continue a career in hospitality.
Wow, week-ago me was so young and dumb!
Just two days after boarding that ship, I knew it was not for me. Working 22 hours in a 30 hour time period may or may not have had something to do with it. After a well-executed escape plan (more on this later!), I was on a plane home.
After the tearful goodbyes to my family and excited rambling on every social media, I was downright humiliated to arrive back at my mother’s house. I went dark everywhere, hoping to wait out the inevitable reveal that my plan had backfired. My family joked about how they just knew I couldn’t handle it.
I blamed myself for dropping out of college and thinking I’d shock everyone with immediate success. I considered a lawsuit against the company for advertising the job as something it was not. I beat myself up for being so stupid. As anyone would do, I’d think, after letting an opportunity like that slip from their grasp. But now, I’m grateful I saw the industry I was considering and “escaped” the life it would give me. Turns out I don’t like long, intensive hours of labor serving the rich. Who knew! (Well, maybe I should’ve guessed that.)
Now, I’m back on the saddle and headed towards my next great venture! And for you, I have some advice on how to do the same.
- Forget Others Opinions
First and foremost: only you can build a life for yourself, so focus on your own journey and stop trying to impress other people. When you realize you’re the only one living your truth, it becomes a million times easier. Your family, friends, and coworkers may care for your wellbeing, but at the end of the day it’s still your life. Don’t fret when trying something new doesn’t pan out. No one can tell you it wasn’t worth it. Most people don’t even try in the first place!
2. Soak in the Experience
You’ll get tired of how often I say this, but the key to life is always learning! Every experience can give you lessons on how to better your life. No matter the goal, the time you spend failing only contributes to the big win.
Even in the short time I was chasing my last venture, I learned something about appeasing the most demanding people in life, experienced my first flights, and developed a greater appreciation for people who can last so long on their feet. I’ve widened my horizons and grown my capacity for respect. I also learned more about my likes and dislikes in the work place. I liked the team atmosphere, the lessons on fine dining, and the beautiful views I got peering off the deck. I disliked long hours, manual labor, and incessant demands. Now, I can forever avoid my dislikes and chase my likes even harder!
3. Dream a Little More
Now you’ve soaked in your awesome life lessons and accepted your failure. Time to continue dreaming something up! I promise you, there’s another way. After my little fiasco in the hospitality world, I realized what I really want is a career offering opportunity to stretch my mental muscles and work at my own pace. I’ve found a temporary position working with a computer and a lovely team that will set me up to build my career further. I will continue writing and work towards a computer science degree— after all, I feel most at home with a keyboard at my fingertips.
I don’t know all the answers, or any of the answers for that matter, but I do know I’m an expert in optimism. Give yourself a little room to bounce back and never fall into the cogs driving people towards dissatisfaction. You deserve to have everything you want.