What To Do When Stuck In a Slump

Note: I originally wrote this post in 2014 for my high school alumni blog, which has now been shut down. I’ve decided to re-post it on Victoriously Yours so my old advice has a place to live.

Fifteen minutes ago this was supposed to be a depressing, melodramatic blog post about how my life is in shambles because, thanks to my own stupidity, I might not be doing anything productive this summer. I was going to tell you about how I missed 500 internship application deadlines because I decided to binge watch Game of Thrones and how I felt unbelievably guilty every time an application window closed. I planned on saying something deep about how life is analogous to those waves you learn about in physics class:

2000px-Crest_trough.svg

Sometimes you get stuck in a slump (the trough of the wave) and your life sucks. Maybe you think your bad fortune might last forever because you’re getting rejected left and right, you’re literally tripping in public, and it seems like there’s no hope for you. But the important thing to remember is that slumps only exist as a contrast to the peaks of life (a.k.a. the crest). “So ride that slump out!” I was going to say, more as a reminder to myself than anything else, “Ride it out until you climb back to the peak!”

And then an email arrived that completely changed the course of my summer and this blog post. It was the ace I held up my sleeve for the longest time, only to be used as a last resort.

The bad thing about social media is that we’re all skewed toward posting good things that happen to us: we got a job, we won a scholarship, we went on an awesome vacation. The other day I scrolled through all of my Facebook posts from these past few years. Biggest observation: all the posts that performed radically well (in terms of likes and interaction and stuff) were the ones about me winning things. Seriously. No one cared for my cute cat GIFs or my shared Buzzfeed links.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love winning and being positive. My former leadership coach used to call me “Victory” and I had always hoped I as a person would follow suit. However, I think my online presence gives people the wrong idea about my life. On a superficial level, it looks great. Almost perfect. Like I never lose or get rejected or face any obstacles. I just get a lot of internships and go on all-expense-paid trips to Abu Dhabi and prance around NYC. But I do lose. I get rejected and I face obstacles all the time! The worst part about life struggles it that they’re not the kind of things you can just share on social media. Facebook doesn’t have a “sympathize” button, so no one likes your post and you just end up looking like some mopey pessimist bringing down everyone’s day.

That’s why here, in this online community where I feel like we’re encouraged to tell our peers and juniors the truth so they know exactly what they’re in for post high school, I am making this confession. Sometimes I feel like a loser sitting among a stack of rejection letters. Sometimes I feel like a lazy buttcake who never follows through with the promises she scribbles in her planner. Sometimes I secretly get jealous of other people’s successes because it makes me feel like a lame, unfulfilled couch potato in comparison.

There’s a popular saying that you “win some, you lose some.” I used to wonder why we have to lose. Why can’t we just win all the time? While there’s nothing wrong with winning, I’ve come to realize that oftentimes rejection can be the catalyst that propels us forward and forces us to grow. In a way, winning is a stagnant thing. Once you reach it you think you’ve hit a glass ceiling. You don’t question what you did wrong or what you could have done better because, pragmatically speaking, it worked. Winning can make a person lazy, that’s why we all have to lose sometimes.

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