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  • Writer's pictureKahdija Murray

How to Deal When Opportunities Don’t Pan Out

This is it. The grueling hours of unpaid hard work and thankless sacrifices are drawing to a close, and hopefully permanently. 

Your dream opportunity is here, and your worries already seem like a thing of the past. 

A Fortune 500 company, an exalted non-profit, or a celebrity client has reached out to you and the celebrations have commenced. You’re told all your friends, and the news gets them excited- they can finally stop hearing your sob stories and picking up your tab!

Before you secure the bag, a fear sets in. Am I qualified, and am I deserving? Am I really ready for that solo show, that salaried position, or internet fame? 

And just like that, as soon as the opportunity has presented itself, it has dissipated. 

The lead has gone nowhere, the potential client has gone silent, and the company has pulled its interest. 

I know this experience like I know my own skin. In the past three years, I have had over a dozen close encounters with overnight success and fame. Whether it’s in the form of a big name that has noticed my work and offered me a gig that would open up my network tremendously, a mega-corporation that expressed interest in hiring me, or an opportunity to show my work in a giant retail chain, it has sent me on a rollercoaster of extreme ecstasy, only to plummet into despair when the opportunity went as soon as it appeared. 

Not only is it tiring, it’s embarrassing. When I get another opportunity, I feel the urge to refrain from telling anyone to avoid having to follow up with bad news. 

Being excited seems like a curse that ensures failure, so when the next potential shows up on my doorstep, I can’t even muster a smile. How can I keep from being apathetic and hopeless when every time I reach the precipice of success, I go crashing back down? 

The first step is to realize that time works differently than you wish it to. 

You may think you are ready, but those creeping thoughts of doubt say otherwise. Even if those are absent, perhaps the skill level or preparation hours put in simply aren’t enough. Always prepare for the role you want, so when it lands in your lap, you’re properly equipped. 

If you didn’t receive it, you weren’t ready for it.

The second step is to have confidence in yourself. Sure, that celebrity would’ve brought a flock of followers to your page, but how many would stay? Although it’s easy and convenient to have a major figurehead bless you with overnight recognition, if you don’t believe you deserve the attention, or could garner it yourself, your blessings will fall flat. Believe that abundance can be given to you without a fat grant or a famous name, and you’ll align yourself with real opportunities, instead of constant fake-outs.

The third step is to understand that the opportunity may not have been all it was cracked up to be in the first place. That corporate dream position may have been repressive on your creative expression. That famous client could’ve been a nightmare to work with. That grant could’ve ended up putting you further in the hole after a bad investment. It’s easy to glorify a hypothetical situation until you’re actually in it and see it for exactly what it is. 

Persistence and gratefulness are two principles that keep me going in these very trying times. Keep going, and appreciate what you got. The universe has a plan for you, even if there seem to be pitfalls along the way. 

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