Set backs have a way of making us take a step back. Our start-up fails, we lose our job, our marriage falls apart, and we want to retreat and hide. We want to regroup and lick our wounds — and maybe even feel a little sorry for ourselves.
It’s only natural. When we lose a piece of what defines us, we don’t know who we are anymore. We lose our footing in the world, and friends suddenly seem like strangers. We’re unsure of what we bring to the table, and we feel embarrassed or ashamed.
The funny thing about relationships, though, is that we experience them more because of who the other person is than who we are. Through our relationships, we empathize (at least to some extent, hopefully) with someone else, not ourselves. We experience their identity more than our own. If this wasn’t the case, we’d all be getting following only ourselves on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
So regardless of what part of you you’re doubting, lately, your friends, family, and comrades are still there as you’ve always known them — and they’re kinda waiting to be rediscovered (gawd, I love feel-good paradoxes). They can help ground you, or remind you of just who you are, or even reinvent yourself, but only if you take the time to embrace them as they are.
So step-out instead of stepping back the next time life hands you lemonade. After all, if you’re unemployed or newly single, you probably have a lot more time on your hands to reconnect with your network or your tribe (or whatever you want to call it). You can give those relationship the kind of attention you couldn’t when you were courting VCs or going to couples counselling. And you can actually contribute a lot more to the relationship as someone they know rather than someone you want to be.