“If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.” ~Chinese Proverb
I remember clearly the day in March 2003 when I would receive the kind of news that no aspiring musician wants to hear.
“Sorry, but you aren’t currently at the level needed to enter our school.”
Five years of blood, sweat, and tears for what? To be told that I sucked? I sat there, lost in my own thoughts. Was I having a bad day? Was I simply not as good as my ego led me to believe?
There I was, face to face with my assessor in a strange city on a damp and dreary Saturday afternoon. It could at least have been sunny! A bit of warmth and energy to brighten up this horrible feeling, but alas, as with many things that day, it just wasn’t to be.
I wandered around these unfamiliar surroundings for almost an hour before catching the train home. This was to be one of the longest journeys of my life, not because of the mileage, but because I felt utterly dejected.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be the only type of rejection I would face during my twenties.
I have genuinely lost count of the number of women who have turned me down. Every “no” was like a hammer blow to my confidence and sense of self-worth. Why doesn’t anybody like me? What am I doing wrong? Am I destined to be alone?
Yet more questions I didn’t have the answer to.
The hardest part to take was the fact that a lot of these women were people that I actually knew, not just random strangers in a nightclub but friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.
I was not some drunken guy that could be easily shaken off when surrounded by a group of friends, fuelled by alcohol and peer pressure. I was a part of their everyday lives, but held at arm’s length, never to get any closer.
Miss P was one of these women. I had chased her for two years. We had a mutual feeling of affection that was only hindered by a toxic relationship on her part.
I waited; it was all I could do. There were the occasions when our eyes would meet as we crossed paths, the hugs that lasted a few seconds too long, and the sense of belonging that hinted at what was possible.
But when my chance came and the universe conspired to bring us together, it was to only be a fleeting moment. Life drove a wedge between us and I felt powerless as I watched her slip away.
Situations like these are hard to take, but you know what? It toughens you up. There are only so many beat downs that one can receive before something must change, it has to. Eventually the brain will find a solution. When faced with adversity, we can all rise up and meet the challenge head on.
I returned to that music school a few weeks later, and I had taken on board everything that was said to me. I practiced intently. I refused to allow this person to tell me that I wasn’t good enough. I refused to walk out of there having failed again. This was my time, and it was going to happen.
The audition was a success. I had adapted to the situation by accepting my faults and working tirelessly to correct them, and thus began a period of huge improvement in my day-to-day life.
I was now ready to adapt this mentality to my faltering love life.
After being rejected by nine women in a row, it was time to change things up. I would no longer focus on the outcome; instead it was all about the process. I taught myself to just enjoy the interactions and focus on making these women smile instead of my own selfish desires.
A funny thing happened: The less I chased, the more success I had. I worked on my personality, not so much the core of who I was but in how I expressed the real me. These people weren’t seeing a nervous, needy guy but someone who was happier being who he wanted to be.
Once I figured out that I held the key to my happiness, nothing would stand in my way.
I started going on more dates. I had more meaningful relationships and even though I still don’t know what the future will hold for me, I believe 100% that by opening up and sharing the true essence of who I am, the right person will somehow find a way into my world.
Throughout life we will receive bad news and criticism that will attempt to strip our confidence to the bone, but we can never allow that to happen.
Failure, or as I like to say, the path to success, is a necessary part of our growth as human beings.
Some people won’t see how amazing you really are and some people may not agree with your principles, but that’s okay. We just have to figure out how best to display our true selves, regardless of the situation.
Whether you’re going on a date, attending an audition or an interview, or simply doing something that stretches your comfort zone, it is important to trust yourself and believe that you have what it takes to succeed.
Mistakes happen. Failure occurs. Things don’t always go to plan but that’s okay, that’s life, and it’s necessary for personal growth. As long as we keep improving and moving forward without compromising our core values and therefore, our integrity, we can achieve almost anything.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Don’t allow anyone to knock you off from the goal that you see in your mind’s eye. This journey is yours and nobody has the right to change your destination.
Learn from the feedback that you receive, both good and bad, but don’t take it to heart.
Everything can be improved and modified to fit any situation. People’s opinions can be changed, as can yours.
Who you currently are, who you want to be, and who you want the world to see are entirely in your hands.
Perseverance—it’s how we can all keep moving toward success, one failure at a time.
Photo by Drewski Mac