“That which does not kill us, makes us stronger” – Friedrich Nietzsche
I still own the very first house I bought. I have always thought of it as my good luck charm because after I moved out of it, I rented it out to a series of excellent tenants. In 2008, however, the recession hit and the house was vacant. Despite my intuition’s warning, I rented the house to someone who was not a good fit. My fear that I would not be able to rent the house for months and months caused me to rent it to the first person who wanted it, rather than to the right person who wanted it. In other words, I listened to my fear instead of my intuition. My intuition – like everyone’s intuition – is always right. Always.
To make a long story short, I’m pretty sure the tenant clogged up the basement toilet on purpose. Then, she had a lawyer write a nasty letter insinuating she may have respiratory problems due to mold that grew after the toilet overflowed. I panicked. She withheld rent. I panicked more. I asked for help on how to proceed from my friends, my colleagues, the real estate community, my insurance company and my contractors. My contractors confirmed that the tenant was the cause of the toilet overflow and that there was no mold anywhere. I breathed. I filed a claim for unpaid rent and unnecessary fees to contractors. I won. I breathed even easier. She appealed. I didn’t panic this time. I won again. She paid the rent and moved out. Whew.
When the dust had finally settled, the people around me asked if I wanted to get rid of the house and stop being a landlord. “Absolutely not.” I replied. Ironically, my difficult experience had ultimately boosted my confidence. At first, the situation I had found myself in was scary, unfamiliar and difficult. But, I reached out for help and received support from the people around me who knew a lot more than I did about how to proceed. The tenant was irrational and unreasonable, so the tough approach was the only one that worked. While unfortunate, this approach was very effective.
So, why not just forget about being a landlady? Because I realized I had a choice about how to move forward from my bad experience. I could have chosen to view myself as a victim and throw in the towel to ensure I never faced that kind of a difficult time again. But I realized that life involves venturing into the unknown and taking risks. We don’t always get it right. If everyone just gave up after every epic fail, no one would ever start a business, have a child, change careers, fall in love, move to a new place, get married or have a difficult conversation with someone they love. In other words, we would never really experience life at all.
Rather than giving up, I could recognize how much wiser I was because of the experience. I realized that my intuition had spoken up when I encountered a person I should have avoided. That realization reminded me to be confident about the infallible guidance that our intuition provides us, as long as we listen carefully. That knowledge made me feel safe and supported. I also realized I was now better able to discern between the voice of my intuition and the voice of my fear. While our intuition will always have the right answers to guide us, it can be hard to hear our intuition over our fear, our insecurity and our self-doubt.
The other lesson I learned from the situation was that even when I did ignore my intuition, everything still turned out all right. I was reminded that the universe is not so unforgiving. Thankfully, just because I ignored my guidance did not mean that the epic fail I feared came to pass. I did not lose my house or experience a terrible financial loss. I experienced some panic initially, and yes, a stressful time. It was painful enough to make me sit up and pay close attention to heed whatever lessons I needed to learn so that I could prevent something similar in the future. But the terrible scenarios my fear and my panic had envisioned never came to pass.
The gifts in the epic fail that turned out to be not-so-epic gave me the gift of a more discernable intuition and the recognition of my wonderful support system. It gave me pride in myself for not falling apart, but instead, asking for help and navigating my way out of the situation. I was reminded that I do not have to be perfect in order to prevent difficult situations from arising because the universe is readily passing out second, third and fourth chances. I felt wiser and stronger as a result of the whole ordeal. All in all, looking back, the gifts I received from the whole experience turned out to be a pretty good deal.
Storms make oaks take deeper roots. – George Herbert