Unexpected disappointment can happen at anytime – especially when you think that everything will go exactly as planned. You can cry about it or you can suck it up. The kind of disappointment I have in mind is not anything petty like, oh, your boyfriend forgot to buy you flowers on Valentine’s (boohoo *rolled eyes*), or you caught the flu before your long vacation starts (even though that does suck donkey balls).
It is more along the lines of life-changing events, as you will see from a couple of my personal stories have powerfully changed me for the better.
When I reflect on past heartbreaking experiences, the three that popped up in my head are: (1) my first breakup with Mr. A-Long-Time-Ago (2) getting laid off from a job that I loved (although it was never my dream to work for someone else); and (3) ending an 18-year friendship with a childhood best friend who was potentially going to be my future maid-of-honor (probably one of the hardest things to get over).
Here is how I turned an awful situation to my advantage by staying positive and taking action to transfer that negative energy into something amazing.
Ever since my breakup with Mr. A-Long-Time-Ago, I learned to compose music for the first time! Although I already own the basic foundation of playing piano, I never thought I could compose and improvise until I bought a used keyboard off eBay and just started practicing. While I am not completely professional at it, I am definitely getting better with every composition. Best decision ever.
Ever since my 18-year friendship with my childhood best friend ended, I have come to accept that friendship is fickle. I also realized just because you know someone for a long time does not mean you and the person will continue down the same path – and that is totally okay! So whoever shows me sincerity and consistency – I am going to hold onto them.
Ever since I got laid off from my last job, I finally got up the courage to pursue my dreams. I am taking time off at the moment to explore all my interests: writing, cooking, making music (on Ableton and piano), and different types of dances. I am super content every day. Despite all the challenges and inevitable obstacles, I am enjoying the journey to get to where I want to be.
“Thank you for the tragedy. I need it for my art” – Kurt Cobain
Listen, this all takes time. There are some things you probably will never get over, but what truly matters is you are able to function wholesomely and still pursue the greater picture in life. I usually give myself a 3-day timeline to bounce back. I am not wasting more time on what I cannot change.
1. First day: You are allowed to feel like a loser for one day.
Do not let anyone tell you to “go for a jog”, “go read a book”, “go take a bath”, or “do some yoga” (what the heck). Dude! When someone is in a seriously depressed state, trust me, they can barely function. Imagine them as a marshmallow – lifeless, soft, lethargic, fragile, pale, and helpless. (I apologize for all the negative adjectives, Ms. Marshmallow!) Not because they don’t want to feel better, but they already lost 100% of their drive and motivation. So it would be extremely insensitive for anyone to make a lame comment like that (although I am sure they have the best intentions).
On a seriously depressing day, I allow myself to feel like a loser because it is actually good for my emotional health. Even if it means sitting on the couch doing nothing for the whole day. I also do not mind dropping $20 on delivery fee to eat whatever the heck I feel like eating. What helps is also having backup aromatherapy candles at home. Aside from that, I would get a bottle of wine with a case of Racer 5 IPA and play whatever music that suits my current mood throughout the night. Especially on this day, I am going to pamper myself.
Some people like having company, but I prefer the alone time when dealing with my own misery. I just feel more comfortable that way. There is nothing fun about having someone sit next to me when my eyes look like shrimp dumplings from crying.
This is the day you should let it all out – like having an orgasm. Strip away all your emotions and all your feelings until you have nothing bottled up. You are allowed to feel like a loser today because you have nothing to lose, but only a lot to gain for the next few days.
2. Second day: Declutter (become a minimalist).
Congrats! You went through a whole day of distress and you did whatever you could to gain emotional relief. I hope you feel well-rested at this point. Although you might wake up still feeling shitty, you are at least a little bit more immune to your miserable situation. The next step here is: declutter.
From my experiences, I go through a process of decluttering where I go from cleaning up my entire apartment to sorting out bookmarks on my browser. I will search for the smallest details that can be assembled, such as organizing coin, hanging up clothes by color, and taking the 12-12-12 challenge. Through the process of decluttering, I am also untangling my mind. It is as if the two are in sync with each other. It is strangely therapeutic and oddly satisfying. Even better if your apartment is already a mess!
Another way I declutter is by using the leftover ingredients in my fridge to create a new recipe. Holy moly! You have no idea how fun it is (or you might, I don’t know). It is as if being on Chopped Challenge. The main point here is that you can function again. It does not have to be a cooking challenge with other invisible chefs – it could be using old items to recreate a new masterpiece.
3. Third day: Have a plan to look forward to.
Now that your house is clean, trash is thrown, and everything is put into place. Do you feel more clear-headed? If not, you better get yourself together and focus. One of my favorite lines from Gary Vaynerchuk is “stop focusing on dumb shit!” The question you should be asking yourself now is: What is the next step? How am I going to get there? It is time to make a plan to look forward to – shifting your focus.
I would even sign up for classes or workshops. You get to learn something new and make friends with people who can broaden your horizons.
Growth = Happiness
No Growth = You might as well be a dead fish so…
I also strongly encourage you to keep a journal with updates on your feelings, progress, and any ideas you have. If we do not have self-awareness, half of the time we operate on autopilot uncertain of our direction. That is scary! It is no different than sleepwalking (ok, maybe a little different).
There will always be obstacles, but you will realize how much stronger you get after every storm – to a point where you can proudly call yourself a superman or superwoman. No, I am serious! When you feel good about yourself, your inner confidence attracts the best outcome. All you need is 3 days. That is it – from there, you will be fine.
Life. Goes. On.