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Jun 17 2017
by Anne Marie Yurik

Why Some of Our Worst Moments Will be the Best Things That Ever Happened to Us

By Anne Marie Yurik - Jun 17 2017

It is easy to curse the bad things that happen to us and just assume that we have bad luck or a horrible life, but that's not always the truth. Sometimes bad things teach us more good lessons and open our eyes to more about ourselves than the good moments ever could.

These bad moments are not necessarily the little, sporadic moments like failing a test or losing 20 bucks. Those small, isolated moments are better to analyze as a collective. All of the times you spilled coffee on yourself or got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic teach us patience. 

When has anyone ever learned patience and empathy by living a privileged, lucky life? Nobody ever felt #blessed after they successfully climbed up the stairs without falling or remembered to do an assignment. Rather, it was when the opposite happened.

My Ben and Jerry's ice cream tragically falling out of the sugar cone helped me appreciate every ice cream more. It's kind of like the Katy Perry line, "After a hurricane comes a rainbow." Cliche, I know. However, if you bear with me, you will see that also the big failures help us a ton too. You might ask, "How does working for an entire year for a goal you didn't achieve become worthwhile?" Great question. 

When I got rejected to a program that I thought epitomized the culmination of my knowledge and effort during my eighth grade year, the word "crushed" doesn't begin to describe how I felt. Everything felt like a scam: all the work and the studying, all the nights at home and all the times I went to school early and stayed late. I thought it was all for naught.

But I did not let that failure define me: rather, I made a point to take courses that were similar to what I had wanted when I applied to the program, and I worked my butt off for four years. I studied and did homework and participated in club activities, and after four years, I was a co-editor in chief of an amazing high school publication who also worked at a publishing company.

Can you see what I'm getting at? Even though that program rejected me, that rejection gave me the strength to work hard and define myself in a completely different way. If I never failed, I doubt I would have pushed myself beyond the academic rigor of the program. I would have never been able to achieve what I have. Being rejected not only gave me more opportunities to explore who I was, it gave me the shove I needed to realize that something as basic as an accelerated high school program does not dictate your smarts or talent. 

Everyone in that program is amazing, and I am sure they did not need the wake-up call that I did. They did not need to find an identity beyond "a good student." Without that epic failure, I would be watering fake plants and rooting myself in an identity that is finite and shallow.

Despite the high amount of personal references in this, the moral can still be traced back to you. Things not going as planned is not a failure. I don't even think there is such thing as failure. Not achieving your goals is not bad because that struggle is what makes you you and it gives you perspective.

Let's be clear though, I am not suggesting that you celebrate every time the ice cream falls out of your cone and splats on the ground; that would be weird. What I am saying is that it is OK to be upset, but don't let that misstep derail you: it's just a sign of great things to come and more lessons learned.

Lead Image Credit: Pexels

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Anne Marie Yurik - University of Pittsburgh

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