I think the biggest lies that I used to tell myself often were “I have no choice” or “this is just how things are”.
However, both of these only served to keep me in place. They were meant as excuses to keep me comfortable.
In fact, I’d like to share a different perspective/choice with you:
If you find that you can’t change your circumstances, you can still change yourself in order to better endure them.
Robbing myself of choice/agency
I won’t lie to you; it took me many, many years to find that thought.
You see, for the majority of my life, I’ve been experiencing the world through the lens of a defeatist.
However, this was not intentional.
I just kept letting the “I have no choice” thoughts repeat without finding a positive thought to rebuke them until they robbed me of my sense of agency.
And I let them. I let them every time I let them cloud my mind. I let them every time I treated them as objective fact, instead of very subjective insecurity.
Needed to change my focus
But when I started moving my focus from the things outside of me I couldn’t control to the things inside me that I could, I found my agency again.
You see, it makes perfect sense that our larger world can make us feel like we’re not good enough for things we want.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 333 million people live in America alone. Now, think about how many of them are vying for the same things: jobs, goals, materials, etc. How many of them overlap in their desires?
In my mind, it is inevitable that you will find yourself stagnating at times when other people who are working as hard as you get that opportunity you wanted.
Ever gone to the store for something you’d been thinking about all day, turn down the aisle and see that the store is completely out of it?
Sometimes, that’s just how life works.
Moving forward can be an internal project …
However, instead of simply giving up and saying “that’s just how things are”, you can take that moment, acknowledge it and then keep going.
You have the ability to tell yourself that, regardless of that setback, you’re going to keep working on yourself and getting better.
You can decide that this failure is just a stepping stone to a better opportunity, and you’re going to work on yourself so that you’re even better for it.
… that takes time
For example, Kenosha News rejected me three times throughout my life before they hired me. They first rejected me right out of college, and the second time about two years later.
I needed more experience.
So I moved to Western Nebraska to get it, then Indiana to fine tune it and five years after my initial rejection, they hired me as the city editor. The initial job I had applied for five years before had been for a part-time reporter.
This meant that, after five years away, I could finally move back home and work at the place I always wanted to and with a better job than I had planned.
Opportunity WILL knock again
Now, that story has a much different ending over time than I anticipated then, but that was my biggest win before everything from 2020 and beyond.
And I still have the business card of that first editor who interviewed me in 2012 (Karl Frederick) when I was 22 and didn’t hire me. [I should note here that Karl and I met again after I was finally hired on. He had retired by that point, and he turned out to be one of the most pleasant people I would encounter.]
But I keep his old card in my wallet even now to remind myself that failure is just an opportunity to get better. If you don’t let the initial rejection defeat you, failure can be temporary.
It’s just an opportunity to keep working on yourself and your skills and later prove that you really do deserve that thing your heart truly desires.
Don’t ever give up on you.
Keep working on the things you need to.
Because, one day, opportunity will come knocking again.
And on that day, you’ll be beyond ready.
EP 14: Do what you can – Inside the Mind of Daniel Thompson
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