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Amira McLaughlin

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Bad Days And Setbacks Are Part Of Life

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So far, we’ve talked a lot about different ways to boost your self-confidence and how to feel better about yourself. While that’s undoubtedly important, there will be bad days, and there will be times when you suffer setbacks. 

From my experience, we can go through setbacks, and sometimes, what I call “set-way-backs.” These are things that put you on your ass. Yes, there’s no other way to express it, read on to see what distinguishes the two, and why I say “set you on your ass.” 

I have had the experience of both. One experience, which I consider a setback was when I changed my plan to go to law school, but instead applied for a teacher program that required to re-locate. I was not willing to uproot my family and move, so they denied my application after spending the time I would have been devoting to my law school process to going through their process. Since I was intent on receiving a post-graduate degree, I spent about eight months figuring out my next step – setback. 

Though I went on to receive a master’s degree in public administration, then later, a master’s degree in education, it took me some unplanned time to complete both. 

While earning my MPA, the last semester, my granddaughter (from my step-daughter), died — “set-way-back.” This traumatic experience took a lot out of me, as you can imagine, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Expectedly, my attendance in school plummetted, and grades in some classes dipped. 

Then, while earning my MS in education, nearing my final two semesters, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, thereby taking me two additional semesters to finish — “set-way-back.” 

So, my degrees mean a lot to me, but for a different reason than one might think. It took me some time to hang my degrees on the wall before my diagnosis. Education, to me, was a way to develop myself personally, not to showcase. But that all changed. Almost all of my degrees hang on my wall to remind me of the strength I possess to pursue my goals despite “setbacks,” or rather, “set-way-backs.” When I get in a little slump, I say, “Now, you need to stop! You know you can do it! Remember when you were going through radiation, and you got up and went to school to finish up your degree; then, you had the audacity to get-up and go to work the next day, like a rinse-and-repeat cycle. Just stop it!”. Challenging, but I am here, and I did it. 

But keep in mind, no one is confident and courageous every single day of their life. No matter how much self-confidence you possess, there will be days where you’re feeling low, and there will be times when your feeling of self-worth is tested. It is part of life, and it’s ok. 

Let’s take a look at why it’s ok and how to work through these bad days and setbacks that are part of life for all of us. 

Without The Dark We Wouldn’t Notice The Light 

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I know it sounds cliché, but without the dark, we wouldn’t appreciate the light. We need some bad times and setbacks in our lives because they make us appreciate the good times, even more than before. Let’s use day and night as a metaphor and example. If it didn’t get dark, and you didn’t have to make it through the long, cold night, you wouldn’t appreciate the beautiful sunrise in the morning, or how those mid-day rays of sunshine warm your skin. 

The same holds for the tough times. They make it seem that much sweeter when we are confident and proud of what we’re accomplishing. We gain a lot of strength and confidence when we make it through a tough day or week. Pay attention as you work your way through it and notice those first few signs of “light”. Take pride in them and appreciate them. They are signs that things are about to turn around for you. Take the time to enjoy and appreciate the good days. 

Working Your Way Back To Confidence 

Of course, the first step is to work your way back to your confident and courageous self. Take baby steps, but force yourself to do something, no matter how small, to improve your self-confidence. Use the tools, strategies, and hacks I’ve shared with you already and will continue to share with you throughout the remainder of this challenge to make that happen. 

Yesterday we talked about journaling and how a simple journal can be used as a self-confidence tool. When you’re going through a tough time, grab that journal. Use the writing as a way to work through what’s happening. Read back through older entries and see for yourself how much you’ve accomplished and what you’re already capable of. Then make a plan, set some goals, jot down a list and start checking things off. Take action, take pride in your actions, and take back your self-confidence and courage.

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