Ever feel like Annie from Little Orphan Annie?
“Stead of treated, we get tricked, stead of kisses we get kicks…
Empty belly life, rotten smelly life, full of sorrow life, no tomorrow life…
Nobody loves me…”
It can feel like that when you are a student of the School of Hard Knocks. I should know. I’ve gone there. In fact, I have a PhD. That’s right, I am a full-fledged graduate, majoring in F@$%@D IT UP TOO MANY TIMES TO COUNT.
That’s me, Doctor of Screw Ups. I did my dissertation on all the mistakes I ever made and what I learned from them. It was so long it blew up my computer.
I’ve made a lot of mistakes. Or at least what others call mistakes.
You could say it was a very expensive education.
But I can’t say I’m sorry. I’m not. I have very few regrets. I have gladly paid for my education at the School of Hard Knocks, with blood, sweat and tears, frustration and confusion, heartache- and heartbreak.
I bet you can say the same.
Funny thing about The School of Hard Knocks is we rarely realize we are enrolling while we are doing it. Later, we might be able to look back and say, “Oh yeah, took a wrong turn there…” But not always. Because not all mistakes look like mistakes.
It can be hard to tell, because if you learned a lesson from it, was it really a mistake? Perhaps it was just a learning experience. And…if you take a moment to think about it, can you think of an important lesson that you have ever learned that didn’t include a few hard knocks?
Graduating From The School Of Hard Knocks
I know some people who seem perpetually doomed to repeat the same grade at the School of Hard Knocks over and over again. They don’t move on to another class. They don’t graduate. It doesn’t matter if you talk to them daily, once a week or every ten years, the song remains the same. The people may have changed, but the stories in their lives are being played out with uncanny similarities. They are clueless. They shake their heads, they blame, they whine, they ask, “Why does this same crap always happen to me?” Their lives are stuck on the ever-revolving doorway of Groundhog Day. They can’t move on to the next class.
Sadly, they probably haven’t even figured out that they are enrolled in school. They simply trudge through their miserable existence singing (or whining) about their hard-knock life to anyone who will listen.
It doesn’t have to be a Hard-Knock Life. There is a way out. Take a page from the Graduate’s Manual
Graduates don’t settle for their lot in life. They know they were created for something much, much better. They dare to step out of their situation and no matter how bad the current situation is, they take steps to move forward, even if it is an inch at a time.
Graduates learn from their “mistakes” and move on to make new mistakes. They understand that hard knocks and mistakes are the name of the game, but they don’t stay stuck repeating the same ones over and over again. They climb up, they do not go round and round. Once they have learned one class, they graduate from that one and move on.
Graduates don’t blame others. They take responsibility for the task of learning their lessons and wholeheartedly embrace the act of learning. They look at life through the lens of learning rather than the lens of being a victim. Life isn’t something that is being DONE to them, but something that is TEACHING them for their future enhancement.
Graduates practice Grace, Compassion and Forgiveness. They understand that not everyone understands their role as teachers and students in the School of Hard Knocks. They accept that everyone is learning at their own pace and that, as in every other school in life, we aren’t all in the same class at the same time learning the same things. Grace and compassion for each other’s journey softens our own roads.
Graduates experience Joy, Happiness and Love Despite Adversity. They figure out that the Happy Boat isn’t coming. They stop waiting by the shore and begin experiencing true love, true joy and true happiness right there, right in the midst of trouble, hard knocks and difficulty. And in doing so, they learn the greatest miracle of rising above it all and living life wide awake instead of half- asleep waiting for the good times to roll in.
Graduates Have Faith. They understand that there is a purpose to all of this. That the Hard Knocks are not just random, but that they are hidden jewels, tarnished gems, that if taken the time to polish and shape, will reap untold benefits and victories. That out of every hard knock, every darkness, goodness has the power to defeat darkness.
Things turned out great for Annie. And for all of her friends. The road to happiness isn’t paved with yellow bricks made of gold. It’s paved with hard knocks, walked on step by step, with eyes wide open, a willingness to learn, the ability to accept difficulty and the grace to love despite it.
And faith. Always, always faith.
Ramona King says
Just when I was feeling like throwing in the towel. I stopped to consider what it all meant for my successful endeavors. I love this article. I was at the gym today, having a really good work out when suddenly I was in a moment of struggle to give up…”It’s all too hard.” The workout was successful but tough and so were my concerns regarding a solid business. But then I considered how much I care about my relationships with others and how I communicate with them/my clients and audiences. I came home and began looking at my challenges…and listed some ideas for dealing with them. Some experiences are just something to consider for future experiences… Can not deal with them all. …one thing at a time. What’s most important though is knowing that you have a team or that those special people out there exist who can help navigate the experiences for stronger, enlightened outcomes. I’m looking forward to having that experience with Wendi and Deb.
Wendi Kelly says
I believe that those that are called to serve others, in coaching, or by writing, or in many other ways, are most often graduates of the School of Hard Knocks. And we- the alumni- are always here for each other, holding hands and encouraging each other through the rough spots.
Deb and I are here for you whenever you are ready.