FOURTEEN: Dogs and Penguins

My professional Hide and Seek tournament was a failure. Good players are hard to find

I have but two words for you this week, my beloved Timmunity; dogs and penguins. Why did I just say that? Because I think we could learn a thing or two from the animal kingdom, especially when it comes to handling setbacks.

The reason I say dogs and penguins is because I saw some videos on the internet of them in their clumsiest moments. I watched a penguin take a tumble down a little ice shelf, I saw a dog run straight into a door whilst running inside to see their owner. But they didn’t stop and cry, as a matter of fact they both shook the cobwebs out of the head and carried on like nothing happened. It didn’t phase them, they got straight back up and kept moving forward, kept doing their thang. Boy, didn’t that resonate with me (also entertain, it was cute and hilarious). We could definitely learn from dogs and penguins, because I for one can safely say I ain’t ever handled a tumble with that much poise.

PSA: I will henceforth use the term “doguin”, to mean dog and penguin. 1. It saves me repeating dog and penguin over and over and 2. It’s funny to say.

We fall over, we all do, both in a physical and metaphorical sense. Sometimes, we go out to achieve something and it does not pan out the way we intended it to, or the way we hoped. But unlike doguins, we have a hard time picking ourselves back up and dusting ourselves off the way they do. I needed to be a doguin this week. I was hit with a setback, my academic pursuits had been unsuccessful, and the poor management of my case by the university had left me with a bitter taste in my mouth.

Most of what I considered a “setback” this year, I let roll off my back. I worked hard last year, saved a lot of cash to go travelling, to go exploring. Then, of course, borders closed. Suddenly, I needed a job. 40 job applications later, I got one, just in time to see the last of my savings disappear, all of which went into funding my day-to-day life without employment. Getting knocked back by the uni was the last straw, I was pissed off. For the first time since I left my family and friends behind to spend some time on the other side of the world, I threw my hands up and started to think;

“Was this the last sign I needed? Is it time to chalk this up as a learning experience, to say that none of this went to plan? Is it time to go home?”

No it isn’t. I came here to experience countries and cultures outside of my norm, to see places that I’d only ever read or heard about. I had given this setback far more weight than it was worth. There are other universities, there are other opportunities and, above all else, I have time. I didn’t get into this one for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is yet, but I owe it to myself to continue to be proactive, to continue to create my own luck, and trust that I will end up exactly where I’m supposed to be

The way I best managed my past short-comings came with a rational clarity, a clarity that I could not experience until I allowed myself to feel what I needed to, whether that be anger, sadness, or disappointment. I got to a point where I could look back at the “failures” of the last few years (my career pursuits and relationship, mostly), and ask myself, “was this my last chance to experience this? Was this my last opportunity to pursue a career? No. Was this my last chance to experience love? Well, I’m a little skeptical but, logically speaking, of course not. Was this my one and only opportunity to pursue studying? Not in a million years. As a matter of fact, while these setbacks appeared a curse more than a blessing, they ended up being the best thing for me.

I read a charming little book that was gifted to me by a dear friend whilst on my travels, it was called “Zen and the Art of Happiness” by Chris Prentiss. What I loved about this little book was the recurring message that, whatever the outcome, what we experience is “the best thing that could possibly happen to me”. It applies to the good and the not so good, with the idea that, particularly the setbacks, are directing you on a path that will take you exactly where you need to be. A great example was the author talking about the relief he felt about his car getting scratched, because now he wasn’t so concerned about keeping the car in perfect condition.Sometimes, it’s our hardships, our setbacks and our uncomfortable experiences that provide us with the insight to be able to appreciate just how good the positive experiences are, to feel the difference when the shoe is on the right foot in our eyes.

I think we get a little caught up sometimes, a little too invested in a positive result. It’s so easy to forget that not getting the desired outcome does not mean that we’ve missed our opportunity. Because, at the end of the day, if we want something bad enough, we’ll find another way.

But of course, we at the Timmunity already knew that. Because the Timmunity does not sit and wait for time to change its luck. It isn’t reactive, it’s proactive. We can create our own opportunities, we can take chances that are presented to us. And the beauty of being proactive, the great thing about creating our own opportunities, is that if it doesn’t work out, we keep looking for a new one.

Happy Monday!

Fall seven times, stand up eight

Ancient Chinese proverb


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