Category Archives: Growing Pains

In Focusing on Only What I Can Control I Have To Deal with Handling Disappointment

So one of my goals for 2012, frankly this is a rollover from 2011 really, is to stay focused on what I can control.

Basically, I can’t control other people not my friends, not my family, not my teachers, not my classmates and colleagues but I CAN control what I do: how I study, how I support my family and friends. And this sentiment/perspective has helped me a lot in the last year. I have made more requests based on my needs instead of not making requests based on my fear around how my requests would be perceived and as an extension cause myself more stress. Making of these requests is actually an extension of the above goal — to do what I feel I need to do to remain healthy, wealthy and wise (obviously within reason and legality).

Though I have enjoyed my new perspective and feel better because I have asked more for the things I need and I have reached out to more people asking for help, one thing that has been hard is dealing with the disappointment of people, in most cases that I knew would disappointment me, when making these requests. Receiving no answers to my requests kinda takes me back to the place of worry, frustration and disappointment that has caused so many delays in the last four years. Especially, when I feel these answers reflect a person not working within their job description in terms of their relationship to me.

It also makes me think, “why am I doing this?” Luckily, I have a bigger picture reason to be where I am and I also can, “look to the hills from which cometh my help and know that my help comes from Him.” But even this doesn’t stop my human/flesh feelings of frustration and disappointment. In fact it basically re-affirms my old policy of just not letting people in and trying to do things on my own; which isn’t the solution.

Anyway, moving away from the raw feelings I have in these moments (I had one recently if you can’t tell from my tone), one solution I do have that has been working is seeking new help and pushing past the disappointment that stems from my expectation that I shouldn’t have to do this or that. Because at the end of the day, I don’t have power to change what should or shouldn’t be done in some of my family, friend and school/work relationships BUT I do have power to find new avenues to receive what I need to be successful.

In the last year or so alone, I have sought after new friendships and worked to gain new perspective on overlooked potential friendships around me. I have also sought out new and old mentors when it comes to school/work.

All these moves have bearing good fruit for me but I’m an idealist and I always want to help and I still think sometimes that I can get a new result from some of the people around me who have disappointed me in the past and have not shown any signs of changing. I also want to fix things as I go so that others do not have to go through the same disappointment, drama and frustration that I had to. Additionally, I go back to these situations not because I want to but because I have to because I am in the systems I am in for now and to protect myself I feel I have to say well I did reach out to person A or department Z and still look what happened (basically a protection mechanism to say that I did what I was supposed to do).

The other tip on dealing with disappointment that I am still learning how to really manifest is using my undesirable temporary situation as motivation to do what I need to do to move on. I remember one moment, I think it was my second year of graduate school, I was so frustrated with my experience that I thought hard about why was I doing what I was doing and then I remembered my research (that looks to female political elites in Latin America) and I remembered a video I received during my last research trip to the Dominican Republic and I put it in to watch. Watching that video and seeing the barriers and the work that is going on to increase the number of women in politics there was just the boost I needed to deal with the current “stuff” I was dealing with and push forward. Writing that sentence reminds of a sermon a pastor at my church taught where he basically said that the manure (mess) of my life is like fertilizer…though it stinks it actually helps to make me stronger. 

To sum up this post and offer some assistance and encouragement to those reading this post, even when you focus on what only you can control (your interactions with people, your work, your prayers and your constructive critiques etc) the disappointment will still come as people are people — imperfect and disappointment prone creatures. However, if you work to focus back as quickly as you can to what you can control, reach out to new people to become part of your needed support systems while remembering your big picture and the Higher Power you can get back to keeping the main thing the main thing as Steven Covey says in all of your relationships.

The Book of Danielle

The Book of Danielle

So I’m sitting reading, well not right right now but you know what I mean, and I got the most random thought: what would my life look like if it was written as book in the Bible? How would my trials and tribulations be described? Would I have the pleasure of writing the book or would it be some Moses, Abraham or Paul type write it? What lessons would people from years to come learn from the first quarter give or take a year or two of my life?

Three lessons I thought of are:

1. A Bad start does not mean a bad finish-

Since the age of 12 I had wanted to go to Spain. My older brother’s friend in high school was from there and I was fascinated by the “funny” language he spoke and his “funny” accent in English. Well…my junior year of college my dream finally came true…I made it to Spain but I hated it. I felt like an outsider and I knew that no one would mistake a Black girl with braids as being a Spaniard…it was bad all around. However, overtime things got better. I found a great group of friends to hang around…none of us could be mistaken for being Spaniards, lol. Met some nice locals and formed my own routine. By the time December hit I was sad to go home as I knew I would miss my friends from the US, Spain & elsewhere I had met as well as the life I had created in the wonderful college town of Salamanca. This trip that started out on a bad foot became one of the best experiences of my life. To this day, not an entire week goes by where I don’t miss something about living in Spain!

2. Do Your Best Even When You Think No One Is Watching-

As a freshwoman in college (I went to a Women’s college :D), I joined the Model United Nations team. It was one of my favorite activities as I combined my love for world affairs with the ability to draft policy and learn more about the United Nations. Spring of my freshwoman year our team had an opportunity to compete in the WorldMUN conference being held in Brazil. I knew I had no chance of making the team that went as the odds were against me: youth & the limited number of spaces. However, one day during our team meeting I followed the simulation just like I always did and I happened to make a few good points that got the advisor’s attention. At the end of the meeting he pulled me to the side and asked me if I had a passport. I responded, “yes I do.” He then explained to me that the woman they originally selected to go to Brazil did not want to get her passport and that he thought I did well in the meeting that day and therefore wanted to offer her spot to me. I quickly responded yes and a few weeks later enjoyed a great opportunity to not only improve my MUN skills but go overseas to Brazil…and it all started with me doing my best even when I thought no one was watching.

3. God knows how to make a way out of no way (I know this has been covered in the Bible but as they say repetition is key)-

In 2005-2006 I was overseas in the Dominican Republic doing research and somehow I managed to get a tour of the main US AID office there. During the tour my tour guide a.k.a one of the employees of US AID introduced me to one of his co-workers that worked on women’s issues. After describing my project to her, she mentioned that she has a contact with former first female Vice President Milagros Ortíz Bosh and that she could call them to see if Milagros (Dominican politicians are referred to by their first name as they campaign that way) had time for an interview. I held my composure and said sure that would be nice if she would be willing to make the call on my behalf. Within the week, the one interview that I had only declared to myself would be fantastico to get for my project became the first interview I got for my project…proving once again God makes a way out of no way.

Well that’s the preview of my “Book of the Bible.” What about yours? What would be the themes and stories that would appear in your book if your life was a book of the Bible?