Raise The Bar #TOL

Do you ever step back and think beyond yourself about yourself?  You know, like, away from your basic constitution as a human being to try and figure out why you do what you do?

Well, if you have (and even if you haven’t), join me in this edition of Thinking Out Loud with Amanda at Running with Spoons. (Lady, thank you for letting us all get it out — you’re truly awesome!)

Come this Friday, I have officially been in the UK for 60 days.  That seems like forever, but considering I plan on staying here for a long time (possibly forever), it’s a drop in the (eternity) bucket.  

I have had a very open dialogue about the stress and anxiety I have experienced since I moved here to live with my husband, Luke.  Like, seriously, some of you are probably over hearing about it, but it’s still something I contend with daily.

I keep feeling like I should be more settled, should have a job (like, not even a great one), a sense of identity, and a general feeling of purpose.  I mean, it’s sort of difficult to thrive when you don’t feel like a real person 90% of the time.  I actually equate this feeling to the one I had after I graduated from college, moved to New York, and broke up with my long-term boyfriend — the only difference is, I had a (youthful) sense of optimism running through my veins back then.

It’s not like I knew what I wanted to do with my life back then, or anything.   At least now I have a clear picture and focus of what I really want.  I mean, does anybody other than like 3% of people really know what they want to do before the age of 30, 40 or ever really? Really?

That inability to know what I wanted from my life continued for YEARS and caused me to fill the void with all kinds of (not so good) habits and people.

As I am quickly approaching 35, I feel myself reflecting on everything (WAY more than when I turned 30, I mean, I had 4 years of wiggle room to still f*** up).  I had no idea I would spend the past eleven years, since leaving college, doing the following things, over and over again:

Getting jobs and losing jobs.

Finding love and losing love.

Making friends and losing friends.

Gaining pounds and losing pounds.

Leaving America and returning to America.

Losing a parent.

Gaining a spouse.

Leaving America again.

Starting over completely.  

When I look back on it, I can’t believe it all has happened.  I mean, I’m a zygote in the grand scheme of things, and I feel like I’ve lived several lives already.  That said, it was 11 years filled with laughter, love, tears, anger, happiness, loss, gains, and everything else.

As I face this (nearly) blank slate that is my life right now, I can’t help but laugh a bit that I think I feel scared.  Scared of what?  Rejection?  I’ve been rejected more times than I can count, and it’s never failed to open bigger and better doors for me.

Um, hello, Erin, how many frogs did you have to kiss to find your prince?

I plead the fifth on that one, but yes, I have a wonderful husband and life partner for sure.


I have come to realize – I am not living in fear right now, no.  I have been living too comfortably.  I guess it’s my “intentional subconscious” (is that such a thing)?  In the past –whenever I got uncomfortable — I lost something (people, ideas, goals), so, my brain feels like as long as I never get uncomfortable, I won’t have anything to lose.

However, I know that by not allowing myself to get uncomfortable (and potentially lose opportunities) I also will never raise the bar for myself.

After all, rejection is just a way for life to raise the bar for us all.  Sure, when rejection happens, it sucks.  It hurts.  It makes you feel worthless, empty, and alone, BUT it also will push you onward (and hopefully upward).

Just think of all the people, places, and things we would never have experienced if rejection hadn’t raised their bar.


1.  Albert Einstein.  Apparently the parents and teachers of this guy thought he was “mentally handicapped” –which ended up now being seen as a learning disability, but he kind of turned out to be a big deal.

2.  Elizabeth Gilbert.  Liz was rejected as a writer for five years straight, until one of her articles was revived from a “slush pile” at Esquire and soon established her as the first unpublished short-story writer to debut in the magazine since Norman Mailer.  Also, before she wrote Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir of experience working as bartender at the famous Coyote Ugly bar was later turned into the film, Coyote Ugly.

 3.  Theodore Suess Geisel.  The places this guy went — other than the bank — were far above and beyond the places the first 27 publishers he submitted transcripts of his first book thought he ever would.

4.  Steve Jobs.  He started Apple, and then got fired from it, but then left to start Pixar and was brought back on as the CEO of Apple.  Here’s a beautiful (but humblingly sad) video of his commencement address at Stanford University in 2005.   In this comencement he shares how an unconventional path and the drive to never lose sight of his passions made him the legacy he will forever be.  (Special thanks to Jill Conyers for sharing this.)

5. Mold.  Yeah, that creepy stuff that grows hair on things that shouldn’t ever have it, helps like save people’s lives now.  I mean, it had a serious makeover, but seriously, if this gross inconvenience that lived in most of our college refrigerators never existed, people could die from things they catch on public transportation.  True story.

Sorry about that last one, but I think it makes my point.  As I am writing this post, I’m thinking of all the ways in which I will be uncomfortable in the weeks and months to come  — and the inevitable rejection that follows such discomfort.  However, I have to believe each discomfort will be accompanied by an opportunity to propagate my success rather than accelerate my failure.

In the end, that simple shift in mindset is proof of why I am where I am right now; stronger, wiser, and just uncomfortable enough to see what happens next.

As always, thanks for hanging in there whilst I think out loud.

[Tweet “Rejection is how life will raise the bar for your successes. via @beetsperminute http://wp.me/p5q00n-Q9 #rejection #success #refusefailure”]

Do you see rejection as a means to your overall success?  Have you ever looked back at a disappointment only to see that it was the best thing that could have happened?


Spread the good word!


  1. May 14, 2015 / 9:36 am

    Erin this is wonderful and thought provoking! If we lived close together I would invite you to meet for coffee and a long chat. I’m living a big disappointment right now and although some days are hard as hell, most days lead me to believe that this is the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I’ve been trying to write a blog post about the whole experience but the words just aren’t coming to me….yet.

    Oh, and thanks so much for the mention and link back 🙂

    The bar continues to raise and we WILL rise to meet it!

    • May 14, 2015 / 9:47 am

      Thank you, Jill. I am so sorry that you’re struggling. I hear you – loud and clear! You’re amazing and I promise you that whatever it is that you’re being tested by right now is just building your character and strength for greater things. If you believe this, you will be fine – and you have every reason to believe this!
      I totally wish we could meet for coffee too ! You inspire and guide so many of us every day! Don’t give up, just let these challenges come and don’t lose faith! The words will come to you and you’ll find your way to the other side better for it all! 🙂 <3

  2. May 14, 2015 / 9:49 am

    Sometimes rejection really is a blessing in disgusie. I went through school and university with the goal of becoming a history teacher – I did everything to get there, it was all I wanted. Then I applied for my post graduate training, went for the interview and didn’t get in. There was 200 of us interviewed for 5 places. I was gutted.
    Now I look back I realised I wouldn’t be the person I am today if this hadn’t happened – all the good and bad things that have happened since then has led me to a better understanding of myself, my marriage and my future. So as hard as it was, I wouldn’t go back and change it. 🙂

    • May 14, 2015 / 10:03 am

      It’s so true. Imagine how boring life would be if we always got everything we wanted without any struggle? I know I would definitely get bored very quickly. It’s great that you have such a wonderful outlook and attitude about things. I have had so much rejection and struggle (most of if first world lol) but still painful, and I wouldn’t be where I am right now and able to share this with others if I hadn’t experienced everything. All we have is here and now to move forward with so it’s all got to make sense whether we think it does or not. Thanks, Jen! <3

  3. May 14, 2015 / 11:18 am

    I had to learn to turn fear into energy, passion, and excitement. I, too, often think that I am living too comfortably–I am letting certain aspects of my life just kind of course by as they will. Others I am pushing, but is that enough? And then I have to realize that I should honor periods of rest, like the workout week–and know that I need to have a push coming up!

    • May 14, 2015 / 11:37 am

      It’s all about balance too. Sometimes, we have to be aware that comfort isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s good to be comfortable, but not too comfortable – if that makes sense? You know to the point on either side where we are doing more harm than good. I think you get me! 🙂
      Harness your inner badass unicorn, right? 🙂

  4. May 14, 2015 / 12:58 pm

    Ahaha mold. I have found that usually the most uncomfortable things have been the most vital for my success and growth. If I am not uncomfortable at some point then I am not challenging myself and stepping outside of my comfort zone. I can’t believe it’s already been 60 days since you’ve been in Scotland! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll make it 🙂

    • May 14, 2015 / 1:26 pm

      Mold is the ultimate opportunist! Lol. I can’t believe it’s been 60 days either!!! I guess that those sayings”nothing worth anything comes easily” and “easy come, easy go” are quite true. That’s all we can do is put one foot before the other and keep our head’s up! Thanks, Erin!

  5. May 14, 2015 / 1:14 pm

    I’m a huge believer that things happen for a reason. I’ve been laid off three times from jobs I was stuck in and they moved me forward. Losing my Mom gave me perspective and made me who I am today. I think it’s your reaction to the situations, not the situations that make them either positive or negative.

    • May 14, 2015 / 1:21 pm

      I agree and I’m sorry for your loss. I lost my dad in 2011 and have been laid off several times too. That’s what this post is all about, seeing these setbacks as being a place of growth and positivity. Thanks for sharing, Katie! <3

  6. May 14, 2015 / 2:58 pm

    Nailed it! And the mold thing was brilliant. Reminds me of spiders. I hate spiders, but they eat all the other gross bugs. Right? Or do spiders really do nothing except freak me out? Thought so.

    • May 14, 2015 / 3:13 pm

      I would be the mold these days lol. Yes, I think you’re right about the spiders. My brother had a girlfriend, in high school, who was all into plants and she had a spider tattoo. I remember her saying she loved spiders because they protected her plants. They also freak me out. Every week, at least once, we have a giant spider that comes out of the bathtub drain and is just waiting there for me to send it home lol. *creeeeeepy*

  7. May 14, 2015 / 6:51 pm

    Have you read The Big Leap by Gay Henricks? I’m finishing it now and have found it very insightful, I think you might find it helpful. Thanks for sharing your story!

    • May 14, 2015 / 6:51 pm

      Sorry, that should be ‘Hendricks’ 🙂

    • May 14, 2015 / 6:55 pm

      Hi Keli! No, I haven’t, but I will certainly add it to my list! Thanks for the suggestion! 🙂

      • May 14, 2015 / 6:59 pm

        I found his whole theory on Upper Limit Problems fascinating. The basic idea is we deserve to feel good and have good things happen to us. If we don’t know that sometimes we do things to screw it up with out realizing it. Not that you have a problem…that’s not what I mean! I’ve found it helpful!

        • May 14, 2015 / 7:05 pm

          Oh I def have that tendency lol. Sounds super interesting!

  8. May 15, 2015 / 4:55 am

    You always write such great posts that make your readers (me included) think about what you’ve said and then identify or want to discuss with you (over coffee naturally 😉 ) their similar current or past situations.

    For me, it’s only in the last few years (since working in tech project management and starting blogging) that I’ve been more drawn to everything online and am now feeling it’s what I want to do.

    It was only when I finally managed to get myself to Glasgow in 2003 things started finally happening (I was so frustrated with how my life was going nowhere before that) my career took off, I met Lynne, I had a life!

    I think you’re in the right place, things will happen for you. Even thought there will always be ups and downs, for all of us included. You will get there. 🙂

    • May 15, 2015 / 5:08 am

      Aww you’re awesome! Thanks so much, Neil — your comment made my day (and it’s only 6 am)!!!

      It’s so tough figuring everything out and it is interesting how an event (or certain) events can force us to make (and by circumstances lead up to) decisions about our path. I also don’t feel like it’s ever entirely clear, but that’s life, right? I appreciate your support, and I know that where I am is where I’m meant to be. Sounds like things are on the up and up for you as well – which is fabulous! Yes, we will all get there!! Have a great Friday (and weekend)!!! 🙂

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