Facing Challenges: An Opportunity For Learning

“… things did not happen without some heartache…”

written by: John Glass

It has been over five months now since I graduated with my M.S. in psychology. Feels like those months have just flown by.

I have been pushing myself pretty hard as of lately to achieve a number of goals I have set for myself to accomplish at the end of the year. As a colleague of mine asked me, “What has to happen to make this year the greatest year of your life?”

I have done a lot this year already. I left a marriage that was no longer working, for the both of us. I finished graduate school while in the midst of that divorce. Thankfully it ended amicably.

I have been working hard at bettering myself to become the best version of me. I have done this through reading and applying a number of books all centered around personal development. In the past year I have been working diligently to create a life that I have always wanted for myself.

I have begun the path of helping other men in their life through life coaching.

I have worked at obtaining an internship to get my hours for my license as a MFT.

I have worked at formulating the personality development theory that has been trapped in my head for so long (hope to turn it into a book, and/or research funding).

I have gained employment at a community college as a professor of psychology.

I have continued my own personal growth and will strive always to keep growing.

I have found it so helpful to set goals for myself and then strive for those goals.

Yet, these things did not happen without some heartache, struggles, and challenges.

After the discovery of my wife’s affair over two years ago I could have given up, made the choice to depress, and just work my dead-end retail job. I was pretty close to getting into that state of mind just as I have done in the past.

I didn’t though, I owe this to my friends. They kept telling me over and over again, “You are doing great things man, do not give up on yourself because of the choices of someone else.” This phrase sank deep within me. It became one of my credos in life.

Shortly after the discovery of my ex-wife’s affair; I powered through the last quarter of my undergrad degree. I applied to a number of colleges as to continue my education through graduate school.

All the while trying to piece together and work on my broken marriage. There were times I wanted to throw in the towel and say forget it. At one point I told my wife (at the time), “I think I may need to take a year off from school because our relationships is not strong enough to handle a graduate program.”

I got denial letter after denial letter from colleges.

I was faced with the idea that I may not get into a university for grad school this coming year.

I did not accept that. I went to work calling and emailing directors to find out why I was not accepted.

To my discovery, I found out that two of my letters of recommendation were not submitted.

I got in touch with one director (of the college I really wanted) and made a deal that if I could get the two letters to his office within a week would he give me an interview. He agreed.

I hustled to get those letters in. I went on the interview, and I was accepted into the university I wanted. I started my graduate education weeks after being accepted.

At home, I was faced with the choice to work at and potentially overcome the challenges my marriage faced. I choose to work at it, as did she.

We went to marriage therapy for about a year. Simultaneously, I was in my own personal therapy for over a year to work on my personal issues and my personal growth.

I made it through the first year of grad school but I also suffered from horrible back pain all during that first year. I was taken off of work due to this pain. I was poked and prodded for months with little to no results as to where the pain was coming from.

I look back now and I think that the pain may have come from the stressful struggles that I was faced with.

After my first year of school I went back to work only to find out that I had a tumor on my breast.

Luckily, it was not cancerous, but the surgeon highly recommended that I remove both of my breasts to reduce the risk of re-occurrence or possible cancer so I had surgery a month before my second year of grad school started.

To my delight upon waking up from the surgery I had no more back pain and have been pain-free since. I simply look at this as a blessing and try not to understand why it happened.

As I recovered and healed from my surgery I came to the realization that my relationship, my marriage was no longer providing me what I needed.

In fact, I was not even sure it ever provided me what I needed. It was through my own therapy and the couples therapy that I began to see that I was not being my most authentic and honest self I needed to be. I simply went along with whatever was happening in my marriage.

With this new found understanding of myself and relationships. I made the choice that I needed to leave my marriage and began taking the steps necessary to make this transition. Shortly before beginning my second year of my graduate school.

What I learned about myself during this self-discovery and transitional phases in my life that I want to pass on to you are:

  • Goals can be a driving force in one’s life. Making goals and reflecting on them to ensure that your actions are in line with those goals is key to succeeding.
  • Surround yourself with solid friends. Friends that you can count on and lean on. Friends that hold you accountable, tell you the truth even when you do not want to hear it.
  • Be determined. In the face of adversity one can become determined to succeed and overcome their challenges they are faced with.
  • Let go of the past. Look forward not behind. You will never know what the future holds, but you know what your past had. Use your past to learn from and let it go.
  • Take risks. Being willing to take a risk to better yourself and to go after what you want in life.
  • It is okay to be selfish. Taking care of you is the best thing you can ever do. Showing self-love to yourself before giving love to others is okay.

Use every challenge you face as an opportunity to learn something from. When you are in your challenge or adversity it is difficult to see what you can learn from it. Keeping your focus on getting through it first is important. After it has passed is when you can look back and learn all you can from it.

Strive to be the best version of yourself you can be. Not just for yourself, but also for others around you. Be the role model that you wanted in life.


originally posted on The Good Men Project


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