Photo by Jamie Roach

Sometimes, it’s good things don’t work out: Lessons from Life’s Classroom

I ran into an old college classmate at the grocery store yesterday. While we were catching up, he mentioned to me that he was beginning a new job and a new master’s degree program, in a new city, with many opportunities to begin to establish himself in his field while pursuing higher education.

Although he started at the end result of that particular journey he made sure to backtrack to the beginning, and the middle (a process that can seem to take ages to us), saying that he’d applied to many different universities, but was not accepted; that he applied for position after position, with no result.

This process, which lasted over a year, was very discouraging to him. Although he may have wanted to give up at times, he didn’t. He continued to network, ask questions, and pursue activities and projects on the side, while being fortunate enough to work at a “job” to pay the bills. As a result of this, he was able to connect with people who could in turn connect him to opportunities where he was able to flourish.

Although he is now in a place where he might have previously overlooked, he is also a witness to results that he would have never thought were possible (and never would have been made possible had he given up).

As I’ve written before, I’ve come to believe that people can be like mirrors because they can help us to gain insight into ourselves by sharing their experiences if we listen carefully.

Listening to his story caused me to think about times in my own life when I’ve been discouraged because it seemed as if something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to or “needed” it to; situations where things seemed to have fallen apart, only to fall into place after a time.

Celebrating with him and hearing his story reminded me that in many areas of life, in the middle of whatever we might be struggling with…..

Although we might not be able to see it “right now”,

Although I might not be able to see it “right now” (because I sometimes have to remind myself as well)…

Photo by Jamie Roach

Sometimes it’s good that things don’t work out. What we really need might be just around the corner. In fact, the process of getting to “that place” could serve to prepare us for what’s to come.

Think about your own life. Can you see yourself in this story? What experiences have you had where success was just around the bend?


From Aspiring Humanitarian, Relando Thompkins, MSW



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Written by

I'm a Social Justice Educator and Aspiring Humanitarian who is interested in conflict resolution, improving intergroup relations, and building more equitable and inclusive communities. "Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian" is my blog, where I write about issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, and social justice. By exploring social identities through written word, film & video, and other forms of media, I hope to continue to expand and enrich conversations about social issues that face our society, and to find ways to take social action while encouraging others to do so as well in their own ways.

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9 Responses

  1. seapunk2 says:

    Years ago, I read this little quote and I apologize for not remembering who said it – “If you think you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”
    I tie knots most every day. Every day presents a lesson in persistence, resistance, struggle and conflict, as well as seeing the beauty of and in life.
    Finding our place in the world, of peace and meaning, requires dedication to sharing our abilities, whatever they may be. Not everyone will ‘see’ us and we can even feel cheated or discouraged when we’re passed over.
    I will share your post. Thank you.

    • “If you think you’re at the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on.”

      That’s a great quote. I hear you, I tie knots most every day as well. It’s also good to have a support system, and I’ve found that sometimes, others have “tied the knots” for me, or helped me to tie them myself.

      I liked your point about the dedication to sharing our abilities that is required to find our place in the world, and one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received in the past year was to share of myself in whatever I do. It’s one of the reasons why I started this blog.

      Thank you for reading, taking the time to comment, and for sharing my post. I can’t grow this blog without the help of others.


  2. Regina Johnson says:

    This story was very uplifting for me and it gives me hope and determination to keep going on my journey of success! U always write some great articles keep up the hard work Relando Thompkins, MSW!

    • Thank you so much for your comment Regina!

      I’m so glad that you found the post to be uplifting for you! Thinking of my former classmates story helps me to encourage myself as well when things get hard. I even find myself revisiting this post every now and then just to remind myself that there is an ebb and flow to things, and to trust the process. Stay encouraged!

      • Regina Johnson says:

        Thanks and I plan on doing lust that until I get exactly what I want n pursue my passion for helping others in the Human Services Field or even Health Care field now.

  3. Thanks for sharing this story. As someone currently in the middle, and the middle is the toughest spot, of making a change this piece resonates with me.

    I also really like your reference to people being like mirrors, allowing us to reflect on our own experiences and gain deeper insight into who we are. During this transition in my life I’ve spoken with a number of people and that has helped me to figure out what I value, where I wish to focus my energy and to better understand who I am.

    Thanks again, Sally

    • You’re very welcome Sally.

      One lesson that continues to prove true for me is the importance of staying committed to the purpose, even when things may not look as if they’re bearing fruit at the time because the rewards can be just on the other side of the struggle.

      I hope this note can serve as a source of encouragement for you.

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