While “the only way is up” is a popular inspirational quote, I would have to disagree with its meaning. When something difficult happens, up is one way out. But you can also crash and burn into a deep hole.
I don’t mean to be so blunt, but the harsh realization that progress isn’t linear eases some of the blow when you experience this said “crash and burn.”
In my three short semesters at Lehigh, I have experienced these low periods.
In those moments of hopelessness, I debated giving up, dropping out and retreating home. During my first semester, I almost failed two classes. I was lost and did not have a sense of purpose.
However, by the end of my second semester as a first year student, I made the dean’s list and established myself as a successful student-athlete.
I truly believe that if I didn’t go through that period of struggle, I wouldn’t have experienced success in my second semester.
When life gives you setbacks, it is hard to focus on the bigger picture.
People often focus on the miniscule details of everything that is going wrong in their lives and manifest an excess amount of self-doubt. I can attest that I have done just that many times.
But, the sun will rise each morning, the professor will still teach the lecture you skip, the days will pass and the seasons will change. The world will not stop, even if you think yours is on pause. Even when you think the world is against you, you are still growing and making progress.
This is a crazy concept to think about.
I probably sound ridiculous, but hear me out. No matter what you’re going through, you are still getting older. You are learning more about yourself, creating your future and experiencing new things.
When experiencing setbacks, it is important to detach yourself from the situation and analyze it from an outside perspective. Regardless of whether or not the situation is in your control, it is important to observe the setback as something temporary. Regressing into bad habits or falling behind after making progress is temporary.
Everything is temporary.
Each time we experience a temporary setback, we grow stronger and more resilient from it.
The famous ancient philosopher Plato said, “Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow.”
When progress is slowed or halted, it can be hard to stay motivated. But it is important to remember that you are still making progress and growing to be a better version of yourself.
Resilience is born through struggle, and there is beauty to the path of progress. It is normal to build yourself up and fall down on the way.
In the world of social media when it seems like everyone has their life together, it is hard not to compare your own progress to that of someone who is constantly waking up at 5 a.m. and drinking matcha tea lattes.
But progress looks different for everyone.
It can be adding one self care day a week into your schedule or taking the time to make three nourishing meals a day.
So the next time you find yourself in a rut, remember that it is part of the journey. The good times and the bad times shape your experience and your path through life. The progress is never linear, but it is beautiful.