The upside of adversity

I read a fascinating blog post last week about the epidemic of dissatisfied Generation Ys (the short answer is that they’ve all been told by their parents they’re special, and amazing. The sad reality being that if everyone is special and amazing, then no one is).

It got me to thinking about my own childhood. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who loved and supported me (still do) and who instilled in me a belief that anything is possible and that I could achieve anything. That not only am I amazing… but I am INCREDIBLY amazing.

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Forget wanting my life to be a green lawn, which bloomed with flowers, upon which unicorns would prance. Nay, I wanted my lawn to be lush and luxurious, for the flowers to be only the most exotic and fragrant. One unicorn? Perish the thought. I wanted a freaking herd of unicorns, with silver manes and candy coloured horns. And they wouldn’t prance. Pah! They would gallop majestically, and, on their backs, they would each have a purebred white miniature poodle wearing a top hat and holding the reigns from aloft their butter-soft leather saddles.

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I’ll admit, it hasn’t always served me well. I left school (where pretty much every teacher I ever had told me I was amazing…. I mean, I once got 40 out of 20 for a highschool assignment) and entered the big old world, where you might as well throw your rose tinted spectacles on a gum-stained concrete pavement (no flowers – just weeds growing up through the cracks) and have a big, ugly, braying donkey smash the shit out of your stupid pink lenses with its big, ugly, dirty hoof. Then kick you in the guts for good measure.

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Reality can be such a bitch, can’t it? In my early 20s, I used to believe that I would get every job I ever applied for, even those for which I was wildly under-qualified.

And then came the rejection letters. Masses of them. Every single one suggesting that I wasn’t nearly as amazing as I’d been led to believe.

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Original drawings by Cecily-Anna Bennett. Aka: me.

It stung like a thousand paper cuts, splashed with fresh lemon juice. And yes, there were tears. There was incredulous wailing, and slammed bin lids. But in the end, it served me well.

I’m 32 now and in the last 10 years I have worked my butt off. I have experienced disappointment, disillusionment , dissatisfaction and other words that express various levels of unhappiness, which for alliterative purposes, should start with the letter ‘D’. And I’m grateful for that (for the tough times, not for alliteration – though I enjoy that, too). Because if a unicorn had given me the great job I have now, ten years ago, I doubt I would appreciate it nearly as much.

So, I can confirm: A little bit of adversity is good for the soul. Just don’t tell the unicorns, those snooty, smarmy, smug little bastards.

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2 thoughts on “The upside of adversity

  1. Virginia says:

    Great post, Cecily – and I LOVE your illustrations! I had read that post too, and it gave me great insight into Gen Y and the reason for their unbridled self-assuredness – something many of us Gen X-ers weren’t endowed with by our parents. We are instead a cynical, self-deprecating bunch. :-/ But that post, and your experiences, really highlight the differences in upbringing each generation exhibits, and I also find it fascinating. 🙂

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