Last year, I was hardly productive and I did not accomplish everything I set out to do. 2020 was suppose to be the year where I made even more progress and hit all my goals. But it turned out to be the opposite. That was hard for me to accept & adjust, because I am the type of person who loves to try to control everything. And this was the first time in my life where I could not control everything. It was impossible.
Watching the news was draining. I just could not handle the stress and anxiety of living alone under a pandemic. All of this was foreign to me. I thought that after everything I went through in the past, I could overcome this pandemic situation. I thought to myself: well if I could survive breakups, dropping out of college, moving to a whole different country and my family going through financial hardship, I could at least push through the pandemic. I was wrong.
Online school was difficult 🙁 I was doing my senior thesis online and that was a challenge. It was also a sad realization that my dream of graduating and walking on the stage would not come true.
But those hard days taught me a very great lesson that I needed to learn.
“Your problems don’t go away, it’s just how you deal with the bad days, how you manage it and how you push through is what matters most.”
After being stuck in a rut for so many months, I decided that enough was enough. I am done complaining. Eckhart Tolle said “wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it or accept it totally.”
For me, I was not able to remove myself from the situation and fly back home to Vietnam. Flights were only allowed for Vietnamese Citizen, which I am, but there was a lengthy process to obtain a flight ticket, which I could not be bothered to do. I thought it would be inconvenient to wait for the embassy, fly 19 hours and quarantine for 14 days, all just to get back home. I felt that staying in my apartment and continuing my online school would be the best option. I would also be in the same time zone for my classes. There was no way, I was going back to Vietnam to do my LMU online classes! Could you imagine me waking up at 1am-4am for classes? No thank you 😛
I just knew that going back home to my parents would make me feel stuck, not challenged enough and too comfortable.
My parents tried to persuade me that going home to Vietnam would be the smart and safe decision. I guess in terms of COVID safety and hospital capacity, Vietnam wins for sure. But, the growth, the challenges and opportunities still remains here in America for me. It’s hard for me to acknowledge that because part of me wants to be with my family and spend every second with them. But, the truth is I have to stay here to grow even if I don’t want to.
Now looking back at 2020. I am proud of myself for choosing to stay here despite everything that was going on in LA: high covid numbers, closed businesses, violent riots, protest, political unrest and more. It was a stressful period of time but I managed and got through it, day by day.
Everyday was uncertain so I decided to change my mindset to:
- What can I do today, to make my day meaningful and productive?
- What is it that I can control today and make the best out of it?
- What are some of the things I can be grateful for?
- Are there some things I can schedule for self-care so that I can take breaks after working on the computer for so long?
And that is enough.
The voice in my head is a lot kinder, gentler and nicer. I have a better understanding of what I can do and what I cannot do in a given day.This pandemic is giving me a grace period to look at my life and see what it is that I want out of it.
If you are having a hard time going through the pandemic alone, please know that you are not alone. We all are going through something right now. But we can always choose to have a positive mindset. That is not to say your problems and your pain will go away, it’s just that you can make an active choice to be in the driver seat of your own life and not in the passenger seat.
Here are 7 ways to make the best out of a bad situation
#1 Spend some time alone to try to figure out what happened.
The first thing you need to realize is that bad situations happen out of nowhere. You do not expect it. You do not prepare for it, it just happens. You can blame it on luck, fate or destiny. But the truth is bad things happens to all of us and to good people too, believe it or not!
You are no exception nor are you special that you get a pass from life’s misfortunes. This is part of the human condition. You experience great things but also not so great things.
After the bad situation, spend some time alone to reflect on what just happened. Spend some time reflecting in solitude to make sense of it. Are you feeling sad? Angry? Hurt? Ashamed? Upset? When COVID happened I had no idea on how I was feeling. I felt a mixture of things. By spending time alone, I was able to figure out how I was truly feeling. I was able to be in touch with my true self and connect with my inner voice. I would not be able to hear my own voice if I kept being around other people and going on social media to check on what others were thinking and doing about Covid.
#2 Take some time to process the information.
Do not be ashamed of yourself that it takes several weeks or even months to digest what just had happened. When Covid hit Los Angeles in March 13th 2020, I just had gone home from the beach with a guy I was dating at that time. And suddenly that night we were on lockdown. It happened out of nowhere. For the next few months, I felt so confused, anxious and angry. It was only until September to December 2020 where I felt truly a bit better about the Covid situation and my feelings towards it. But it took a while for me to process everything that was happening in the world.
#3 Reflect on past crises.
When I am faced with a bad situation, I often look at my past and see how far I have come. I remember the time being on the plane and flying to America for college for the first time. I remember how hard it was to leave home and how sad I was to leave my beloved family, friends, my grandma and my whole life behind.
I look at the time where I was in New York and dropped out of Sarah Lawrence college because my father called me to say he could not support me financially. My parents were going through a very bad financial period of time. My only option then was to attend community college and live with my cousin. That only lasted for a while until I returned home to Vietnam. I felt like a failure. I then convinced my parents to go back to America and to study in California.
I also look back at the difficult roommates, landlords I had to deal with. The numerous times I changed my major, and all those years feeling alone, isolated in a new country with not a lot of friends.
All these challenges and obstacles that I faced made me more humble. From these past lessons, I learned that when a bad situation happens if I just persevere through the storm with patience, kindness and hard work I know I will make it out alive.
#4 Remove the “I am a good person why is this happening to me?” mentality.
My goodness if I told you the amount of times I felt like this the past year, you would laugh at me. But that is the truth. The whole “I am a good person and no deserving of anything less!” mentality does not save you from your problems, it actually hurts you more.
Instead embrace change, be humble and accept the fact that we all go through things and have problems.
It’s just how you look at it and make a choice to move forward.
#5 Figure out the life lesson.
Is there a life lesson out of this bad situation? Am I supposed to be learning something? What can I make out of this situation?
I believe there are lessons that can be learned from every type of situation you encounter.
#6 Ask yourself how someone you respect would handle this situation.
Sometimes it just takes you envisioning how someone else would behave and deal with a bad situation, for you to get out of your own head. Who are some of your role models that you admire that went through challenging times? How did they handle it?
#7 Keep going do not give up.
You know that saying when life gives you lemon you make lemonade? Yes, well I suggest you keep on making a lot of lemonade. Keep making the best out of the situation you are in. Do not give up. Even when you want to, just keep going. You will surprise yourself and see how strong you are when you decide not to give up.
As we navigate 2021, my goal is to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Even if I cannot see the end goal clearly right now, I strive to push forward.
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Thank you so much for taking the time to read this blog post.
I hope you enjoyed this and found it helpful. I look forward to meeting you and helping you 🙂