To Lose Something
Sometimes, you just don’t know what you have in the palm of your hands until it’s gone. It’s as simple as that. I used to feel so special when I was a kid. Everything was predicated around getting good grades and being good at extracurricular activities.
I was a top notch student from elementary school all the way up to high school. During those 10+ years of schooling, I felt like I was on top of the world. Everything felt so easy. And yes, it helped that it felt like there was a clear purpose to everything. It was easy to see. And that purpose was to study. Study well. Study hard. And get good grades.
My parents did a great job of making my life easy when I was young. No need to do chores. No need to take care of anyone. Just focus on yourself and your grades. And go from there. It was a simple ingredient. And I excelled at it for the most part.
The byproduct was me feeling special along the way. Like I was unbeatable. Like I was unstoppable. That I was one of the most special people on the face of this planet. And yes, it had its benefits. But for the most part, looking back, it was a flawed existence at best.
My success and inner well-being depended on me getting good grades in school. And I thought that these good times were going to last forever. Well, Cornell, showed me that was not the case! As I got my ass kicked academically in more ways than one. And I fell behind the curve. Below average. It felt like I was treading water on most days.
And because of my struggles with academics in college, I began to feel anxious socially. My level of confidence was nowhere near high school level. And I grew timid and afraid of networking and general social surroundings.
That level of unbeatability and invulnerability that I’ve previously had slowly dissipated. The feeling and comfort that I used to get chatting with friends were nowhere to be found. I struggled mightily to feel sufficient and good about myself. And it was just an overall anxious time during those periods after graduation.
I had lost something that used to come naturally to me. The skill of socializing. The feeling of seamless communication. That confidence that used to come to me naturally was now nowhere to be found. It was a hard fall from grace (from my perspective at least). And it was something that I worked hard to regain.
There was no epiphany. No sudden change of luck. But, I just gradually worked at my social skills. Through going out with my friends. Through Toastmasters. Through any forum that I could find. And I struggled mightily again at the outset. I felt so awkward and insufficient. Not knowing what to do in social surroundings.
I was just hanging by a thread. Sometimes, during networking sessions, I would go straight to the bar for a quick drink. Because that buzzed feeling was the only separating me from a fall towards anxiety. That was all I had.
But again, I worked through it all. Not quitting. Not worrying about how I looked. Or about how failure might taste or feel like. Many times at Toastmasters, I would stammer and choke and stutter through a public response. And I’d feel bad about myself. But, I got used to the pain. I got used to the struggle. And I bulldozed my way on - continuously practicing and improving myself.
To hopefully one day regain the mojo that I had lost. And again, there was no epiphany on any particular day. But, I slowly was able to get back some of the confidence that I had lost. Just very naturally. Very slowly. But, the feeling of confidence came back. And I was able to speak more coherently and clearly in public settings.
I had found a light at the end of the tunnel. And I was almost back to the level of socializing comfortably with my friends. Honestly, even now, I’d say that I’m still not back to the level of where I was during the pre-college days. When I felt special and invulnerable.
I still struggle socially at times. But, these days, I feel a sense of gratitude for all the pain, perseverance, and struggle that I went through during those post-college years. When I’d feel so awkward and anxious in group environments. When I’d sometimes hide in the bathroom just to get rid of the feeling of awkwardness that I stained me at networking events.
I kind of miss that struggle at times. That was a time when I truly felt blessed about the little things in life. That was a time when I could truly cherish what I had lost. What was once natural but no longer was. These days, when I need an injection of inspiration - I harken back to those good old days of struggle.
When I had lost something so dear to me. Something that came so naturally to me. Something that I could do in my sleep. And I’d feel a sense of gratitude for the point in my life that I am today. Having regained just a little bit of that confidence, I feel like I’ve regained the world. That I can see life from a new lens. A new perspective.
To have lost something and regained it. It’s a different feeling. It’s a feeling of appreciation. Of gratitude for everything that is around me. For realizing that the world will hit us in the face in different times of our lives, but we must continue to work on ourselves amidst the chaos and commotion.
We must not lose heart. We must continue to bear fruit to our hard work, and challenge ourselves on a constant basis. This is how we can cherish the mundane. This is how we can appreciate everything for what it is. To lose something - and then to have regained it - is one of the greatest silver linings in life that I have ever encountered.