Many years ago, I was in Engineering school for my undergraduate degree. I have never been too bad at academics really. There were some areas that were certainly not my strong points and I worked hard, but I enjoyed almost all of my educational (formal) years thoroughly. I was rarely at the top of the class but surely stayed away from being at the bottom 🙂
It was semester 2 of year 1 of my undergrad degree. Things had been going wonderfully and academics was pretty fun. Exams were a breeze. Joy in the air and all. And then, it happened. The results came out and I had failed to get through one of my courses. It was perhaps the most devastating thing that happened in my life until that point in my life. For one, the failure was totally unexpected. Secondly, Engineering Drawing (perspectives and all) had been my strongest area that semester. I was miserable. I must tell you that a number of other students had unexpectedly failed the course as well (which usually implied an error in grading), which meant I was not alone. For some reason, the blow was so bad that none of the logic made sense. A feeling of worthlessness loomed over me and everyday I measured myself up from the depths of the pit I had just fallen into – and for a long long time, I failed to measure up to basic happiness. And hence, I was miserable. Oh, you should have seen me! My self-worth was close to nothing – nada, zero, zilch! This happened for a few reasons:
1. I had assumed DITCHES don’t exist OR I had assumed I would NEVER fall into one
2. And hence, I failed to carry my “DITCH COMMUNICATION DEVICE”
And then it got worse. I tried my best to rely on people who knew my worth (who had seen me excel in the past) to help me restore some of my self-confidence. For better or worse this happened to be my parents. Well, my parents were wonderfully supportive, but this system was flawed for two reasons:
1. They felt sorry for me. As in, they were too NICE to kick me on my butt and force me to get on my feet.
2. They had BAGGAGE. Funny story – but before I joined my undergrad school, my parents had consulted an astrologer about what would be right for me. The astrologers take was that this school would be a rather bad choice for me. He had warned my parents that if I chose to go to this particular school, I would NEVER really complete my Engineering – as in, I would never really obtain an Engineering degree. Perhaps, at that point, my parents thought he was being ridiculous. So they kept the astrologer incident quiet, very quiet. But when I failed one of my courses, my poor parents could not help but imagine that this was just the start of a very long and never-ending Engineering degree of mine! So you can imagine, this was perhaps worse on them than on me. They knew something I did not!
And then it got super BAD. Someone told me the astrologer secret. Ouch!! Not only was I in the pit, but my parents were there as well!! Times were just not good!
Sadly, I do not remember much else.
But thankfully, I felt better really soon. I applied for my paper to be re-evaluated and I passed my exam – and I did pretty well too.
In hindsight, I was lucky. Life is full of ditches really. And it is not very often that we can apply for a re-evaluation of our situations. In order to believe in ourselves when we fall into these ditches, we have to learn and prepare to believe in ourselves. That is the key to not giving in to a “miserable death in a deep ditch” – so to speak.
The Anatomy/Parts of Ditchiness
- You : It is all about you, always remember that.
- Your Baggage: As much as we all like to travel light, we are certainly clinging onto little and big things from our past. If you are not carrying baggage, good for you – One less thing to deal with.
- The Ditches : The ditches are there and they come in ALL shapes and sizes. Whether you like it or not.
- The Others : The others are there too. The good ones, bad ones and really ugly ones too.
- Their Baggage : People love the baggage they carry – especially the stuff in their bags that relates to you 🙂
- The Tools: These do not just exist. They have to be created and tested by you before you fall into a ditch 😉
Prepare to Believe in Yourself
The secret to getting out of a ditch in life is believing that you can scale it and get out. And the secret to believing in yourself when you are in the dark depths of a ditch is all about preparation (a torch, a cell phone etc).
- (Locate the ditches) : When you are having the best time of your life, take a few minutes out of your day to think about what could potentially go wrong. But take only a few minutes. This is really important because a happy mind is a healthy mind. And when you think about bad times with a healthy mind, you tend to think constructive thoughts.
- (Locate your tools) : Now that you are thinking good thoughts about bad times, start to quickly think about what you will do when times get bad. And think about your recovery strategy at two levels:
- One – Things you can do now: Should you get an insurance? Should you cut costs and run your business lean? Should you apply for a new job now?
- Two – Things you will do in the ditch: Is there anything you can read to feel better? Do you have a word that will kick you back into gear or should you perhaps wear your read underwear? Should you get out and run? Or will a day dedicated to helping others help you recover some lost self-esteem?
- (Test your tools ) : Externalize. Talk about it. Briefly. With people who matter and/or people who understand. Help people who are already having the struggles that you are likely to have. Share your strategies and learn from them. And become a better person in the meantime 😉
- (Share your tools) with the others
- (Take responsibility) : Be aware of THEIR baggage. If you have a person in your life that carries no baggage from his/her past, PLEASE tell me. But your best bet is to take responsibility for what you will encounter in the future and prepare for it. Expectations never left anyone very happy.
Life is not that bad after all.
There is life. And there are ditches. Several of them. And the ditches are dark. All of them. But, guess what – all the ditches have a little staircase leading back up. All you have to do is find it. Carry a little torch to help you and a cell phone to tell the people you love that you are okay. And then take your time to make it back up. You will be a stronger, happier individual for believing in yourself and making your way out.
And all it would have cost you is a little time. A little time for a lot of good.
Fun Stuff in the Virtual World
If you are a newbie blogger or a seasoned one for that matter, be sure to check out what the amazing duo – Eric of MotivateThyself and Sean of WriterDad have started out at BlogopolisBlueprint. These guys are amazing – they already have Leo Babuta of Zenhabits talking there today.
And a couple of the best new year’s posts:
1. And the Word Is… at Jungle of life
And if you are a blogger, there is still plenty of time to participate in Davina’s fun quotes project – So head over there!
Oh, nothing would ever be complete without some shameless self-promotion ;). Make sure you check out my company website – Memetales. It is coming along nicely! I am super energized but am watching out for the ditches too :). While you are there, do sign up for my newsletter for all the fun and juicy information!
Happy New Year Everyone!