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Gaining Strength, Courage, and Confidence from Failure

“He is able who thinks he is able.” ~Buddha

At any point of time every person has:

  • A set of things s/he wants to change but cannot (plans)
  • A set of things s/he tried to change but could not (helplessness)
  • A set of things s/he could have changed and did not (guilt)
  • A fear of the unknown, anxiety about the future, and worry about decisions to be taken (fear)
  • Too many plans and associated what-ifs (anxiety)

I have experienced all of the feelings listed above and have tried hard to ease myself from what I went through. Many times, I was unsuccessful.

After contemplating on all the above, I realized something: If someone can change something in my life, it’s me!

The normal path we all choose is: plan -> effort-> outcome.

And the outcome is usually one of the three:

  • Best effort -> success -> acceptable
  • Weak effort -> failure -> acceptable
  • Repeated best efforts -> unforeseen factors -> failure -> not acceptable

There are plans and then there is effort to work on those plans, and then on top of everything is the result—which, most of the time, is directly proportional to the effort, until there’s a mystery factor, like luck or unforeseen circumstances involved.

I’ve been unemployed for two years now.

I got married two years ago and my husband had a job in another country. After we got married, I had the choice of quitting my job and relocating with him, or hanging onto my job and persuading my company to give me an intra-company transfer. I tried the latter, but it didn’t work out.

So I quit my job and relocated with my husband. I was pleased with my decision, and so was most of my family. With a strong job profile, I was confident that I could nail a job in any country, any time I wanted.

But that was not the case. I tried to get a job, but I couldn’t. There was failure at every step. I slowly lost all the self-confidence I had. My personality just faded away.

I use to sit blankly, not knowing what was going on around me. I was slowly heading toward depression. I couldn’t tell anyone what I was going through because no one around me thought it was a big deal.

Take a break, its fine; have a baby, it will be fine; enjoy the honeymoon period—this is the type of advice I received. Yet, I knew deep down that my career mattered to me, and I felt that I had ruined it.

Despite all my effort, I couldn’t get a job. This was the first phase, when I told myself that maybe the effort was not enough.

So I put in more effort, everything that I could put in, from studying for interviews to networking and beyond. Eventually I got an offer, and I was excited to have finally made it. But, being an international employee, I needed a work permit—and the government rejected me for these jobs.

This was phase two. I was hurt and spiraling into depression. I was just numb. I didn’t have answers. I reached a low with my self-esteem. I lost self-respect, self-dignity, and the ability to trust my decisions.

Then recently, there was a change, a wave of change that I forced myself into. I decided that I would embrace life and face every fear. I wanted to never feel that low again.

I decided right then that whatever happens in life, I will never again question, “Why me?”

This one decision to let go of my self-pity brought me back to life.

I realized that I am here because of my own decisions, actions, and effort. I decided to quit my job, I was the one who did not have a backup plan, and I was the one who wasn’t mentally prepared.

It was me, and I took responsibility to change how I look at myself and my life. If I fail, I shall try harder, in new ways. If unforeseen circumstances come into play, I shall embrace them and try something else.

Everything suddenly seems brighter, better, and achievable. I have learned to see the silver lining in the cloud.

Slowly I improved myself, externally and internally. I started walking, even if it was just 10 minutes each day. I groomed my looks in whatever way I could. I started working for my entrance exam to join school.

I had a backup plan if this didn’t work. I made measurable goals—as small as wake up 30 minutes early tomorrow, read two chapters, or learn one thing new in my field of work.

I had let my fears overpower me until I decided to take charge. And I’m a much better person than I was—an organized, positive person who can face life and my fears.

If you’ve experienced repeated failures and have struggled to get back on your feet, don’t lose hope! Allow your fear to surface up, and see all your failures as experiences that have given you more strength, courage, and confidence.

The only danger is in refusing to face your fear and letting it hold you down.

Photo by learning_machine

About Shilpa Chandrashakhar

Shilpa Chandrashekhar is an amateur who has written several poems and inspiring short stories. Shilpa has a great love for travelling, meeting new people, and learning new cultures. A foodie, beach junkie, and wannabe entrepreneur, she now works as a software engineer.

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