How A Missed Opportunity Could Set You On A Better Path

No one likes to be let down. Whether it’s something as big as a competitive internship or as small as Friday night plans, getting your hopes up only to be crushed is, well, crushing. No one wants to believe that they’ve aced the test until it gets handed back, and it’s virtually unheard of to spread the word that you’ve made varsity football before the team roster gets posted. In my experience, I can’t say much for varsity football but I can definitely vouch for the crushed intern-to-be. I, like all aspiring, wide-eyed undergrads, wanted to get involved in the community. And I wanted to get involved hard.

I found an ad for one of the university-based organizations posted up on a campus volunteering page I’d joined a while back. It was like something was telling me all of those months ago that something was up ahead, something saying, “Yo, pay attention over here.” As it turned out, I loved what the organization was offering and I signed up for a position right away. I interviewed, Skype-style, and it went surprisingly well. Afterwards, I felt really good, but I didn’t want to come off as cocky, especially when the decision was out of my hands. And as all superstitious people know, it’s a jinx to tell yourself that you’ve got it in the bag. So knock on wood, avoid all ladders, and as the old saying goes, “Hope for the best, expect the worst.”

This may seem like a pessimistic viewpoint, but it’s #tooreal. As you’ve probably learned by now, the world will continue to throw you all kinds of curve balls, especially when you least expect it. I truly believe that we’re capable of handling anything, but the nitty-gritty of it is that we simply deal with some curveballs better than others.

So hey, even as an optimist, I can’t deny that I don’t like to be let down. Though I can attest, there comes a time when you allow yourself an insane dose of bright anticipation, this hope that the best really will come. This interview was, without a glimmer of a doubt, one of those times. It may not have been an interview, but you’ve been there: You believe that everything will turn out the way you’ve wanted it to, that this time you’ve really got it right. No matter how you turn the situation on it’s head, it always makes sense. It’s inevitable: You’ve got it.

That is, until you don’t.

I didn’t get the position. If you’re like me, you’ll ask yourself, “What went wrong?” You’ll replay what you did, over and over again, until each step has been looked at so meticulously that you could write a lab report on it. You go through all of the social cues ingrained in your head: The way the interviewer smiled at one of your answers, or the way the coach had you do one extra scrimmage above everyone else. No matter how you turn it over in your mind, it just doesn’t add up.

Sometimes it never will.

What I can tell you is this: Beside every closed door really is an open window. Things may not work out the way you’ve planned, but you’ve got to figure out a way to make the best of it. Instead of turning the past events over and over in your mind, you can use the brain-space to think about how to turn the situation into a learning curve. Instead of seeing it as a missed opportunity to expand your horizons, see it as an opportunity to grow.

I ended up being offered a different position, one that I hadn’t expected, or even considered, before. And I took it. I’ve decided to look at this as moment of fate, a chance to see what will work better next time, and to surround myself with the best and become even better. Maybe you’ll do the same. Whatever you decide to do, think of where you’re at, not as a final destination, but as a pit-stop on the road trip to greatness.

Featured Image Via noel.alva

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