Do you ever feel like you’re a minnow in a big pond? Here at UCLA, I think it’s pretty easy to feel that small. Many of us came from high school being more of a koi, only to find that when we became Bruins, everyone else was a koi. My point in this metaphor is that this is a competitive time in our lives. Everyone wants the bait and not everyone is going to get it.
It can be discouraging to not get it. I’m not a naturally competitive person so it can be challenging to be put in such a dog-eat-dog (or maybe in this case, fish-eat-fish) setting. And while UCLA is a positive and welcoming environment, nearly all of the students are driven, hard-working, and intelligent as they pursue similar interests. It’s anyone’s game.
I speak from experience as I write this week because I was recently rejected for a school position that I had really been hoping for. Counting my chickens before they hatched (do you think I like animals?), I was overly excited for the potential opportunity. To my dismay, I wasn’t given that opportunity. And while I could be frustrated or disappointed, which I’ll admit I was, I tried to see the positive in the situation.
I believe that everything happens for a reason. Sometimes we are meant to get the bait and sometimes we aren’t. The important thing is that we always have a hunger to live a challenging life. By challenging I don’t mean overcoming disease, divorce, or natural devastation. Instead, I mean that we should constantly push ourselves outside of our comfort zones to become better, stronger, and happier people. I believe in taking risks, even if that means losing occasionally or even often.
Not getting what we want can become the best blessing. It is in these times that our loved ones come by our side and support us, that we can see new doors that were before closed, and that we can try harder than we did before.
It is ultimately our choice. We can choose to starve, like a weak minnow, and wallow in our situation. Or we can try to grow like a mighty koi and find our strength. And more than anything, when life is not going our way, I believe that it is our responsibility to make it go our way. While some things are out of our control, like getting hired for the job I applied for, there are numerous things that are in our control. That is what we should really care about. Our future is in our hands if we make it so. If you don’t like what is being handed to you, then create something for yourself to hold on to.
Other people can limit you but you can never limit yourself.