Turning a Negative Experience into a Positive One

Cheerleading Cupie in Pittsburgh Let me tell you a story about how, with a change in attitude and a bit of luck, I managed to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

When I was a freshman at Michigan State University, I earned a spot on the MSU co-ed cheerleading team. It was an incredible experience. As a part of the team, I became an instant "local celebrity"—signing autographs and taking photos with fans, filming television commercials, traveling the country and meeting all sorts of incredible people. I couldn’t imagine a better way to experience college.

At the end of the year, we were required to try out again for the next year. I assumed I had nothing to worry about. You might even say I was a bit cocky about the whole thing.

Big mistake. The day after spring tryouts, the new team list was posted. My name wasn’t on it. I found out later that I had been cut because of my attitude.

I felt cheated, resentful, heartbroken. For years, I had put so much of myself into this one activity, and now that I didn’t have it, I felt empty.

At the beginning of my sophomore year I was still upset, but I knew I had to stay active—a person can only sulk for so long. So I put things into perspective, changed my attitude and went out to turn a negative experience into a positive one.

During an "Intro to Digital Media Arts & Technology" (DMAT) class, I learned about an open supervisor position in the DMAT Studio. I had never had any time for a job while I was on the cheerleading team, so I jumped on the opportunity to meet new people and make some extra cash.

The job was perfect. Working in the studio opened me up to a wealth of opportunities—I got to know a number of creative students and professors as they worked on projects in the studio, and I had full access to an entire studio filled with the latest technology and gadgets. As I experimented with the recording studio and portable audio recorders, I became interested in podcasting (which would later play key a role in landing my first job). Best of all, I could choose my own hours, which made it easy to balance work, class and life.

But I hadn’t given up on cheerleading. I kept working to keep my skills up throughout the year and visited open workouts when I could. More importantly, my outlook had changed—I was no longer cocky. My year away had humbled me and taught me not to take anything for granted.

When tryouts came around again, I summoned up the courage to go and face the possibility of getting cut again. But this time around, things were different. My new outlook and year of hard work paid off, and I made the team.

So, as it turns out, getting cut from the team was actually the best thing that could have happened to me. It led me on a bit of a detour from what I had expected, but it also forced me to look at opportunities that I had never considered before—opportunities that had a tremendously positive impact on my life and career.

And in the end, my flexible work hours allowed me to balance work, class, life and cheerleading.

So if you ever find yourself in what feels like a crushing situation, take a step back and look at your options. It’s not that when one door closes another one opens. That other door has always been open. It’s just that, until now, you’ve been too distracted to see it.

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