Silver Linings

In my last post, I talked a lot about the jealousy and anger I felt when a friend’s career took off and mine didn’t. I also mentioned how I felt that my anger was rooted in ingratitude – that if I only appreciated the things I do have, I wouldn’t be so flustered that she ‘won the startup lottery’ and I didn’t.

I did some reflecting on my bad experiences, and one thing I realized is that silver linings are real – I’m not a huge fan of motivational sites that spout aphorisms without actually providing any real substance, but I hope to demonstrate how some of my bad experiences have resulted in good things. For example:

Bad experience: Company underpaid me

Silver lining: I got over my fear of negotiating, and negotiated HARD at my next job. I more than doubled my salary. I am no longer afraid to discuss my goals and expectations with my manager and bring pay inequities to management’s attention, even if it means putting my job at risk. I am no longer afraid of being an ‘abrasive woman’.

Bad experience: Company unfairly fired coworkers, citing ‘performance issues’ when there was no documentation (no performance improvement plan)

Silver lining: I learned to protect myself. Seeing my coworkers get fired taught me to always get things in writing.

Bad experience: Company in general didn’t treat me well. I was routinely blamed for things I did not do. I was so afraid to leave because I felt I wouldn’t be able to get another job, but it eventually got so bad I quit with no job lined up

Silver lining: I became much more confident in my abilities. I found a new job in a couple of weeks. I now have the confidence to leave an employer if they mistreat me. I will never get ‘stuck’ in a bad situation again

Bad experience: I grew up with a ‘tiger dad‘ who would yell at me if I didn’t get straight A’s. He would tell me I’d be homeless if I didn’t get good grades. In high school, I’d only sleep 3-4 hours each night because I studied so much.

Silver lining: I developed a strong work ethic, which got me into Stanford. My work ethic still benefits me today, where I have no problem working harder and longer than my peers (and I enjoy it!)

Bad experience: I was overweight as a child because my parents would feed me processed food because they were too busy to cook meals. Both of my parents worked.

Silver lining: My parents could afford my college ($200k!) because both of them worked. Many of my friends have horrible loans.

Bad experience: I was bullied a lot as a kid because I was overweight. I developed an eating disorder at 19 and social anxiety.

Silver lining: Being bullied as a kid made me interested in psychology to ‘self treat’ the emotional damage. I used techniques from psychology to overcome my social anxiety. I also have a lot more empathy/find it easier to form relationships because I know how it feels to be treated poorly.

While it’s hard to see the silver linings, especially when you’re going through something difficult, they’re always there. When I’m angry, or depressed, I try to see the silver linings to help me get through it.

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