Gritting Your Teeth

Words by: Alice Wright
Art by: Uyen Dien

One thing we can all relate to is the inevitable highs and lows that life offers us. I think sometimes it seems as though every win is matched with three losses. As soon as you feel like you’re climbing the ladder of victory, there’s a strong, mighty wind that swoops around to knock you down a few pegs. When I’m feeling positive, I like to see it as character-building. When I’m revelling in pessimism, I feel sorry for myself and like to blame my own actions for things not going the way I wish they did. Really, it’s a horrible feeling to be down on yourself. But what’s the key to being resilient through our ongoing misfortunes?

The older I get, the more I realise that tough times and sensitive situations are unavoidable — they are simply part of life. Therefore, I have no choice but to learn how to make things easier for me to get through. 

This year, I made it my goal to get a full-time job, or a job related to my degree. My first mistake was telling everyone I knew that I was job searching. Every time I saw someone they asked me how it was going, which only served as a reminder that it wasn’t going. My second mistake was thinking that it wouldn’t be that hard getting a job. And my third mistake was thinking it wouldn’t take that long to get a job. 

I found the overall experience pretty stressful. After receiving many (and I mean many) rejections, I started to judge myself and try to find reasons why I wasn’t good enough for these roles. However, picking myself apart wasn’t going to help me achieve my goal. I had to keep my head up and take the time to understand that it clearly wasn’t the right role for me and didn’t come at the right time. I also took the rejections as opportunities to learn about what I could do better — I would email and call to ask for feedback and found that generally, people were pretty happy to help. 

If I could offer any advice, it would be to understand the value in turning losses into opportunities. Use them as a learning tool, grow from them and show the world that you can come back twice as strong. 

Just over six months later, I ended up getting a job. I slightly altered my goal and expectations, adjusted my thinking process, and just kept applying for job after job. I think one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt — and the hardest to overcome and accept — is what will be, will be. Not everything is going to work out in the end, and that’s because it’s not supposed to. Don’t chase after someone or something that doesn’t show you that they want you. Stop waiting for that friend to show up during hard times. Remember that your family doesn’t always have the time or energy to have your back. 

Sometimes, being resilient is knowing when it’s best to move on and let go. It’s not worth waiting for people to treat you the way you deserve to be treated, because in my experience, they aren’t going to change. Putting in the work to find people who make you feel warm and loved is so important. It may not be the easiest option — it takes time, effort and a great deal of trial and error — but you will forget about everyone who never gave you the love you needed. 

Most of all, trust yourself. Find the strength inside to use all setbacks, insults and obstacles as motivation to be better, and take them as they come. At the end of the day you’ve only got yourself to rely on. Be proud of where you are today, and take every little win as a huge motivation.

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