What is your first reaction when you don’t get something that you worked hard for? Are you angry or sad? Do you beat yourself up or attack your credibility or the credibility of others? Or do you allow yourself to feel what emotions come up, sit with them, and let them go?
I recently applied for a scholarship grant to support my project The Canvas Collective which involves doing photoshoots all over the world and enlisting other women in joining me as a way to own our unique beauty, power, and give back to local artisans (photographers, fashion designers, makeup artists, hairstylists) directly. The application process brought up a lot of fears—fear of rejection, fear of failure, and fear of being seen. I acknowledged these areas and pushed through to get my application in by the deadline.
After I submitted the application, I felt so empowered and proud of myself. In the past there have been opportunities that I’ve wanted to go after and would hold myself back—I would allow my fears and limiting beliefs to overtake me and not even try. So just completing and submitting the application was a BIG win in itself. I marked the date of May 1 in my calendar in anticipation of hearing if I made it to the final round.
During the month of waiting, so much transformed for me. The biggest Aha! moment I had was in realizing how much I was allowing struggle to take over my life and stop me from doing the work I was committed to creating. It was in an instant that I made a choice to no longer let struggle be part of my conversation. Yes, there will still be challenges and obstacles I face, but I no longer have to struggle in the process.
Letting go of struggle freed up so much negative energy and fight or flight mentality.
Letting go of struggle opened up a whole new level of Abundance for me—I found clarity in my vision and work, more opportunities presented themselves to me, and I even found a surprise increase of 30,000 points in my Chase Ultimate Rewards account!
While things were looking up for me, I still had a feeling deep down that I wasn’t going to get the scholarship. I tried not to put too much energy towards thinking about it, and continued to focus on my projects at hand. When May 1st rolled around, I found myself full of angst. I was nervous to get the email and read the results. Well, nothing came that day or the next. I told myself that I would’ve heard by then if I had gotten it. On the morning of May 3rd I was packing to go to on a trip and saw an email pop up. It was from the Scholarship Foundation letting me know that I had not made it to the next round.
Even though I sensed this would happen, I was crushed by reading the news.
Tears immediately began to fall and I couldn’t stop them. I allowed myself to cry and experience the sadness I had by hearing the news and sit with the pain of not getting what I wanted. I didn’t make myself wrong or pick apart my vision or create any blame towards the Scholarship Foundation. I just allowed myself to be in the moment and feel what I needed to feel. I took out my notebook and wrote down every thought that was running in my mind so I could release it from my mind. The thoughts I wrote down were ugly, mean, and disempowering. Thankfully I’ve done enough inner work to know that the thoughts were lies and not true—I wanted to get them on paper so I could remind myself of that.
After a bit of time sitting with my disappointment and sadness, I joined my weekly group coaching call. Tears began to fall again as I announced the news that I did not make the cut. My coach brought awareness to my language and specifically to me saying “I knew when I applied that I wasn’t going to get it.” I realized in that moment that I was tapping into limiting beliefs that I had created when I was in high school—I failed in high school and I’m going to fail again.
She had me look at the situation and make a list of all of the strengths that I knew in that moment to be true:
People like and attract to me
Not afraid to be vulnerable
I made a list of what I wanted and who I needed to be to achieve it, what lessons I had learned during this process, and how I could apply them going forward.
This exercise freed up a lot of space for me and was in perfect timing for my long road trip. During my drive, I had a lot of time to process. I asked to be shown the beauty in this situation and to be shown what else was hiding deep within.
What showed up was so profound and beautiful.
I realized that I had closed myself off to receiving. And not just in this area, but in several areas. I was not open to receiving support, love, or gifts from others. I loved supporting others and giving to them, but I was not open to receiving them myself. And it showed in so many areas of my life (potential relationships, friendships, opportunities, etc). And through that I realized how I had spent most of my life trying to prove myself instead of being open to receiving.
I don’t often share details about my upbringing out of respect for my family, and I also know that it’s my story to own. And by me sharing certain parts, others may feel free to share theirs, and own that it’s just a story. I love my parents and family and know that all of the challenges we faced shaped my siblings and I into the remarkable people we are today. It doesn’t matter if you came from a home of privilege or poverty, or happiness or heartache, as children, we all create assumptions that shape our reality and push us to work through and process as adults.
When I was 11 or 12 years old, I found out that my father was an alcoholic. I remember finding a beer bottle hidden somewhere and was confused as to why it was there. And then I began to be more aware of how he acted and could tell something was off. And on top of that we lived in the basement of an unfinished house filled with challenges of its own. It was around that time that I began caring what other people thought of me. I wanted to appear that I had it all together and came from a “normal” family and normal home (even though a lot of kids from my school knew us as the family that lived in the unfinished house). I wanted to be friends with the popular kids and wanted to prove to them that I was just like them, and that it didn’t matter what my home or home life was like. I started hiding my situation and pretending that everything was fine or not a big deal. And this act of proving and trying to look good carried me throughout my teenage and adult years.
As a preteen and even teenager, I didn’t really understand the weight of pretending, looking good, or proving myself. I just took on this persona and began to push myself harder and harder to perform and look good. And it was through this process that I created a rule that I had to do it all on my own.
I didn’t need anyone to tell me how to live or help me. I could do it on my own.
So fast forward 15+ years later and here I was going after something I really wanted, and I still wanted to prove that I could do it all on my own. I had resources that I could’ve tapped into or could’ve asked for guidance and support, but I wanted to prove to myself (and probably them) that I could do it and earn it on my own. I even asked a friend to review my content and application and then when she came back and asked to see it, I changed my mind and said I was okay and that I didn’t need her support anymore.
I never considered the impact to myself or others by thinking that I could do it all on my own. I denied others the pleasure of giving back to me. And I missed out on an opportunity for feedback and ensuring that I was submitting a solid plan.
It’s been a couple weeks since I received the news about not getting the scholarship. And since that time, I have created the daily mantra of “I am open to receiving.” And it’s amazing how it’s been showing up. I’ve met strangers and reconnected with old friends who have flat out asked me, “How can I be of support to you right now?” I realized my tendency is to want to say no, and I’ve let that go. I’ve stopped to think of how they truly can support me and responded as such.
I am open to receiving. I know that I am not alone on this journey, and that I have a beautiful support system eager to help me meet my goals and succeed.
While I did not get what I wanted, I can now see the beauty in not getting it at this time. Had I gotten it, I may not have been present to these hard learned lessons. I wouldn’t have allowed myself the space to feel and be with my thoughts and emotions. I may not have realized how I was adding so much pressure to myself to look good and prove that I could do it on my own, or realize how much I’ve denied others of being in service to me. And nothing is lost. I will continue with my project, and I’m in the process of pursuing other ways to fund it. I hope to share more about this soon, and I’m open to your support when the time comes. :)
How to Deal with Not Getting What You Want
Allow yourself to feel and be present to all of the emotions that come up. We’ve been trained and brought up to believe that it’s not okay to show emotion. When you ignore your feelings or try to get over them rather than through them, you are denying yourself the ability to cope with life’s lessons. If you’re angry, be angry; yell and scream. If you’re sad, cry and release tears. If you want to break something, buy a watermelon or coconut and smash the hell out of it. Don’t let these feelings boil inside of you without releasing them. And on that note, work through the heartache or upset rather than covering it up. Often times our way of dealing with pain is by masking it—eat a tub of ice cream, get drunk to cover up emotions, run away and try to forget that this happened. By doing so, you’re just creating more tension around the pain and not directly healing it.
Write out the thoughts and limiting beliefs around your upset. Get these thoughts out of your mind and in front of you. Often times when you see them on paper, you can call B.S. on them and know that they’re just thoughts/limiting beliefs and not real. And give yourself grace with whatever comes up.
Write out your strengths and areas you know you shine. Take some time to give gratitude to yourself and your gifts. Shift the conversation in your head from “I’m not good enough and I can’t” to “I’m pretty badass and I can”. And if you’re really not in a space to see the good in yourself, ask a friend or two to remind you of what they see in you. Write down those areas.
Shift the conversation from you to gratitude. Ask others what they are grateful for or excited about. Bask in the joy that others are present to and allow yourself to smile at all of the beauty happening around you. The day I found out about not getting the scholarship, I posted on Facebook asking people to share what they are grateful for. Responses flooded in and it really shifted my mood and awareness.
Stop trying to prove yourself. You may not believe it right now, and that’s okay. I will tell you anyway: You have nothing to prove. I have nothing to prove. Stop trying so hard to be someone else or do things to show others that you can do it. Set yourself free and own your own unique gifts and talents.
Be open to receiving. Stop closing yourself off from receiving support from others. If an offer is genuine and feels aligned with where you are, accept it. Give others the sheer pleasure of giving to you so that you may return the favor to someone else.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Yes, this is a common phrase, but it’s true. Just because you don’t get what you want in one area, it doesn’t mean it’s the only way or that you’re not meant to get it. If what you are creating is heart-centered and you truly believe in it, find other ways to make it happen. Don’t give up your dream just because one door was shut.
Do something nice for yourself. Take a walk, buy yourself flowers, or get a massage. Whatever you choose, do something that will respect your energy and give back to you in a healthy, beautiful way.