Sometimes things don’t go the way they’re planned. Maybe even most of the time. We get a big idea in our heads of how things are going to be, how they’re supposed to be, and then the exact opposite seems to happen. It starts when we’re kids. It’s gym class and you’re about to play your favorite sport. They start picking teams and you’re sure you’ll be picked first. You’ve been practicing, you’re ready! Except you aren’t picked first. You’re picked closer to last. Move on to high school, and you’ve finally worked up the courage to ask your crush to the prom. You just got your haircut and you bought a bouquet of flowers to impress her. You’ve got it in the bag. Except she says no because she’s waiting on the guy with the brand new sports car to ask her.
Instances like these carry on into adulthood and we never grow out of them or escape them. If we can’t escape them then we need to be sure we’re prepared for them. Our lives are full of things that are completely out of our control. We can’t control the outside world. We can, however, control how we react to it.
Recently I discovered all of this first hand.
My wife and I decided to pick up our family and start a new life hours away from home. We wanted to move to a place where we could start fresh and experience new things, meet new people, and have new beginnings. So we did it. Before we moved we talked about our goals and everything we wanted to achieve when we moved. Then we secured new jobs, found a daycare, and we moved.
It was tough at the beginning but we made it work. We kept our goals in mind, and in a little over a year, we achieved everything we set out to achieve. What we thought would take a few years barely took one. We were extremely proud of ourselves. But we weren’t happy.
Wait, what? We moved to a new place, achieved everything we wanted to much faster than we thought we could, but we weren’t happy? We weren’t. Even though we did what we wanted to do, things never felt right. We never felt like we were home… like there was something missing. So what are we supposed to do? Force ourselves into happiness? Keep forcing smiles when all we want to do is frown?
Not at all. It’s okay to be unhappy. Everyone is unhappy at one point or another. We just have to be able to get through the down times and get back to the good times. So instead of forcing happiness (which is impossible to do) we moved back. We picked up our lives again and moved back to where we started from, and we couldn’t be happier.
Maybe some people would see this as a failure, but I don’t.
The only thing I would see as a failure would be never trying. To try something and not get the results you want is ALWAYS better than not trying at all. They say when we get older we’ll look back on our lives and we’ll only regret what we didn’t do and never what we’ve done. To this day I’m happy we moved. It didn’t work out the way we wanted to, but we achieved a lot, learned a lot, and it made us better people. If we never tried I would’ve spent years wondering about what could’ve happened if we moved. I’d be haunted by thoughts of what life might’ve been like. But I don’t have to wonder about any of those what ifs now because we did it, we made an effort, and that’s all that matters.
When it didn’t work out, when we realized we weren’t happy, we fixed it. We didn’t get mad at each other. We didn’t allow ourselves to spend years chasing a happiness that didn’t exist. We admitted we needed a change, and that change for us was to go back to home, so we went back. That’s all we can do in life. Accept the things we can’t control, and change the things we can.
So when you get picked last in gym class, play your hardest. You can’t make the team captain pick you first, but you can cross him up and hit a jumper over him during the game to make him think twice next time you play basketball. That girl that turned you down for the school dance? You won’t even be thinking of her because you moved on to the next girl and she said yes and you two are having an amazing time together. When you leave everything behind to start a new life in a new town but it doesn’t work out, don’t worry. You don’t have to stay there. Move back to where you came from and pick up where you left off. In all of those situations we become better people because we went through the tough times but we stayed positive and came out stronger on the other side.
Life will always be unpredictable. How we respond to life doesn’t have to be.