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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Things I Learned from Falling Down


November 16, 2021
by Marvyn

Life Hacks

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Remember my very first blog post when I said my OT journey wasn’t cookie cutter? Click here if you haven’t read it yet. I had a lot of setbacks before I became an occupational therapist back in my home country, the Philippines. But as many people would say, nothing worth having comes easy. It is really those setbacks, that led me to be who I am today. Here are just a couple of things I learned from these setbacks.

#1, Everything happens for a reason.
Setbacks suck. You planned to achieve your goal and worked so hard, only to have it crash down and fail. So now, you feel disappointed in yourself for letting this happen. You feel like you failed a lot of people’s expectations. You then go down a slippery slope that sets you up on a dangerous snowball of hurt. I remember being in that snowball many times, and the crash landing hurt the most.

I think there is a sense of calm in understanding that some things, whether good or bad, MUST happen for your personal growth. I mean, who wants to watch a movie without conflict? I remember when I was struggling and eventually failed to meet my undergraduate professor’s expectations, I did nothing but blame myself for it. But later when I realized that this needed to happen, I understood that had there been no setback, there was no room for growth and improvement. Now that I know the feeling of disappointment, I did everything I could to not experience it again.

#2, It’s useless worrying about things you cannot control.
“Oh no, my plans failed! My life is over!” You start worrying about what comes next. You think relentlessly about the problems you will face. You start panicking because you have no backup plans and have no idea what to do. To some extent, you even start to contemplate giving up on your goal.

I am the type of person that plans out what I want to do in my life. But when life plans do not go the way as planned, I used to panic and worry about things that haven’t even happened yet. It’s like dodging a rock without anything being thrown at you. I just ended up being very tired. Instead, I found that learning the art of “letting go” lifts the weight off my chest. Now while I reflect on my mistakes, I learned that in failing to meet my undergraduate professor’s expectations, I am unable to influence what others will think of me. I am also unable to change what I did because what’s done is done! So instead of worrying about anything and everything, I started thinking about the small things I need to do to improve, like tweaking my schedule to fit the demands, calculating small steps to take to get back up.

#3, Revenge is so sweet.
And by revenge, I meant I developed a strong internal motivation to become stronger, more resilient. I always tell my friends that a small setback is only setting you up for a major comeback. When I found out my life didn’t go the way as planned, I took that as an opportunity to grow. Like in any movie, the protagonist fails and experiences hardships, but they always find ways to come back stronger. The internal flame that burned inside was my motivator to stand back up and to keep fighting for my goals. I took all the necessary steps to be better than I was, and I was determined to not repeat the same mistakes. I made sure I prioritized self-love and focused on strengthening my personal relationships as well.

Overcoming these setbacks is the best type of revenge you can make. The feeling of “Nothing is going to stop me now!” is exhilarating, most especially if you start succeeding in achieving your goals! It’s like winning an arcade boss fight after losing over and over again. After your self-reflection, growth, and improvements, you can see yourself fighting back much stronger than you had before.

Every superhero has an origin story. And it seems like failure must be a major prerequisite to become one. After countless setbacks and continuous life tweaks, you would think I would gain a sense of tolerance, but quite frankly life doesn’t work that way. I’m not here to say, “There there. It’s okay.” Instead, I’m here to remind you that although things could and will get rough, never lose sight of your goals in life. Had I not experienced what I have had in my past, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am today: achieving my dreams here at USC. My OT journey is definitely not a linear path, but I learned to be grateful for every experience I am getting, all the good and bad. After some time when you look back at where you have been and gone through, you’d be proud of how far you’ve gone and what you have accomplished. Keep at it, you superhero, and always Fight On!