Experience Is What We Get When We Don't Get What We Want - Erin's Inside Job

Experience Is What We Get When We Don’t Get What We Want


A few weeks ago I applied for a credit card.

Many years ago I was pretty responsible with my credit; I made payments on time and didn’t spend exorbitantly. Then isolated living and my addiction entered the picture and I took every cash advance that those cards allowed me. When I went to jail I was unable to pay them all (thank you to family who helped with what they could) and I had several accounts go to collections.

When I returned to society, I worked to pay off those collection accounts and wipe the slate clean. While Neil and I were dating he added me as an authorized user on his credit card (THIS IS TRUE LOVE), but I was terrified to buy anything and when I did it was at his urging or I was buying things for the both of us like food.

I never got my own credit card because it was easier to rely on another person than to actually do the work to rebuild what I had broken down.

So a few weeks ago I decided that I was tired of living as what was essentially a dependent and that I wanted to take steps to rebuild my credit and be able to stand on my own two feet. Neil applied for me since I was in another room (dependency = work in progress) and I got the denial letter a couple days later.

The loans for the grad school that I was politely asked to leave result in a high debt to income ratio for me and there was some indication that the accounts I thought I had cleared up may still have some issues. I went online to decipher the dubious language of my rejection letter, only to have not one, but all three credit bureaus tell me that I would have to call or write in to request a copy of my report.

I did what Erin does best when she is overwhelmed and that was to abandon all hope of a life or future, credit or otherwise. You see, when things get hard I freeze. Before, I would wash away the discomfort with whatever alcohol I could find or look for any substance to stop the feelings for even a moment. Today I can’t do that.

I can’t escape with drugs or alcohol but I can escape with books, TV, food, all those socially acceptable things that don’t raise flags for you as an observer but resound like an alarm inside every part of my body. Some days I need to take a break and some days I need to carry on.

That day I took a break. The next day I took a break. I love breaks, so I took a couple more. Then I remembered an important saying:

Experience is what we get when we don’t get what we want”

Everything in life grants you experience, but the truly valuable lessons come from the times when things don’t work out the way you want them to.

Think about your successes in life. When things are going your way, you are probably the first in line to give yourself credit and don’t take much time to reflect on the intricacies of those good times. When things don’t go your way or you don’t get what you want, however, there is often a great deal of introspection and questioning.

“Why did this happen to me?”

“What could I have done differently?”

For me, learning from my mistakes has given me a great wealth of information to pass along to others. I have learned the most about who I am as a person by my failures or when interactions and relationships with other people didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to.

If I had been right, like I actually wrote in a journal six years ago, that if I had an “endless supply of narcotics while continuing pharmacy school and working then everything would be fine,” I would have none of this to share with you today. I would have no freedom, no message, no blog, no marriage, and possibly no life. The most growth I have ever experienced has been during the periods following loss or simply not having something go my way.

So I took a break (or five) because even though I know how important it is to keep walking the path, I am still quite easily overwhelmed some days (as I suspect many of us are). Then I tried again.

I can take bad news on face value and give up, or I can learn from those experiences and choose to keep going. I applied for a new credit card through my bank, had to answer follow up questions on the phone that made me feel inadequate all over again, and this morning woke up to this:


In full transparency, they came back and asked about my household income which may have been a factor, but Neil is nowhere on this credit card and if they are looking at the same credit report that the other company was then it still could have been a risk to issue it. In any case, I am finally taking steps at 30 years old to ensure my own individuality and taking responsibility for issues I created for myself in the past.

Better late than never.

PS. I’m still going to figure out what kind of insanity my credit report holds. Wish me luck.


  • What experiences have taught you the biggest lessons?
  • How do you cope with fear and discomfort?
  • Tell me one random thing about whatever you want.

Thanks as always to Amanda for letting me think out loud.

23 comments on “Experience Is What We Get When We Don’t Get What We Want

  1. Another crucial truth. I look at my time at Columbia as an experience. I had to learn to be thankful for the experiences that it gave me because guess what, it didn’t give me what I wanted out of it, but it gave me other valuable things and it was a privilege. Am I where I thought I would end up? No, but who is to say that is a bad thing? It is just where I am, and I have to draw on all the tools in my toolkit to keep moving forward. Columbia added to that toolkit.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Versatile Blogger Award and Luna Gluten Free Protein Bars GiveawayMy Profile

  2. So many kudos to you for being honest and writing what I’m sure was a very tough post to write. I tend to be really affected by little setbacks and rejections and it can be really hard to cope with sometimes if you’re a really sensitive person. So glad you’ve found healthy coping mechanisms and I’m really glad that everything worked out in the end with your bank. Congratulations on being approved for your credit card!
    Beth @ Running with the Sunrise recently posted…Finding My Next Running GoalMy Profile

  3. My grad school/med school loans are basically eating me alive and my debt to income ratio sucks; I totally know where you’re coming from. I think a really hard thing for me was having my husband buy our house in his name just to spare any issues that would come up with my credit. I keep telling myself that each monthly loan payment is a step in the right direction but it’s very daunting, to say the least.
    Pragati // Simple Medicine recently posted…How to: Have a Healthy-ish VacationMy Profile

  4. I hear ya on this. I was way too trusting with people and my money in the past. An ex of mine basically robbed me blind (as an authorized user – never do that when you’re not married, or in like 6 particular US states lol) and now I get treated like a second class citizen when it comes to getting loans. HOWEVER, it’s forced me to be really responsible with my money and stop being a materialistic person, so that’s experience for you.
    Erin recently posted…5 Tips For Staying Healthy In A New CityMy Profile

    1. You’re definitely right about that. Sometimes it’s those crappy things that teach us the best lessons.

  5. wow this post really hits home for me in so many ways. I feel like we are living parallel lives on many levels. your success always inspires and motivates me! when you share your struggles I feel like you are seeing mine as well. it’s quite amazing.
    my experience with this issue of credit may not have happened the same way, but I have had the same experience as far as having my credit completely destroyed and feeling totally helpless and depressed over the years and years of trying to rebuild it… little tiny baby steps, to put it mildly.
    if it’s okay with you, I would love to link your post to my blog and write something along the same lines. since I just had this same thing happen – where I got some more bad news about my credit, and then a tiny sliver of light – I would love to write something and link to this post as my inspiration.
    dealing with the credit issue is like putting a big piece of my past to rest… I want to just make it go away and live my life and be happy! but I have to face it and take it day by day. the whole credit thing has been such a long journey and struggle, yet thank goodness for my husband who has been nothing but supportive and nurturing. he is determined to fix it and won’t let me put my head in the sand, which is all I want to do sometimes 🙂
    we are such lucky humans <3
    danielle saucy smith recently posted…Food Glorious FoodMy Profile

    1. Of course it’s ok! Write away! I’m glad that you’re picking up the pieces as well 🙂

  6. This post is so timely for me. I realize this is ENTIRELY different from a situational standpoint, but I’ve been doing a lot (A. LOT.) of dating over the past few months, and everything has led to a whole lotta nothing. And good heavens, a girl can only handle so much rejection (or reject so many people) in a short time frame, you know? I was feeling particularly bent out of shape over all of it this morning, so this message–experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want–REALLY hits home for me right now. Even though nothing has worked out the way I wanted it to, I’ve learned so much about myself, what I want, interacting with others, the city of Chicago (gotta find somewhere to go on these first dates 😛 ). I’ve gotten a ton of experience out of all of this, and even though it hasn’t always been fun, it’s experience I wouldn’t have had otherwise. It’s allowed me to take a step back and evaluate myself and my priorities in a way I doubt I would have if everything had worked out and been sunshine and butterflies and happily ever after from the get-go. So thank you for this! Definitely what I needed to read this morning.
    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions recently posted…Thursday ThingsMy Profile

    1. Of course! Thanks for reading 🙂 I feel you on all the relationships/dating…I had to go through so many before I started to get a handle on the mistakes I kept repeating and each one taught me a little more about myself. It definitely isn’t fun all the time, but all of it has been important 🙂

  7. It’s hard to think that all of our experiences, good and bad, have brought us to where we are today! Debt is a very scary path, and I wish I could give you a big HUG for not only being approved for a card, but for dealing with this the way you have. XOXO

    1. Thanks Jess! I only wish I had done it sooner, but it is what it is and I’ll make the best of it going forward!

    1. Haha I know that feeling. I would love to just shut down all the time, but it’s that pesky self improvement thing haha.

  8. It’s not what happens to us, but what we choose to DO with what happens, that is the real deal. A counselor told me this the night before I began a 4 month prison sentence for prescription fraud/”doctor shopping.” That was 9 yrs ago & like you, I chose a path of recovery to regain my dignity, self-worth & life in general; but in a much different & healthier way. Through the gift of recovery that I choose daily, I’ve “cleaned up my mess” & am responsible & present in my life today. Regardless, my mind/thinking still plays the “old tapes” that at times, get pretty loud. Yes, I have “new tapes” I’ve worked hard to create, but the old ones will never be erased & I don’t really want them to today. I can’t rip out pages in my life story because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them, but I can choose not to add pages that repeat the past.

    To some degree, I still feel overwhelmed, fearful, self-doubting, a need to “do more to be better,” & self-conscious every day. I accept this, but I no longer “live-in”or allow that place to define my whole being. As a recovering addict who grew up w/ an alcoholic father, black & white thinking is my default; especially at times where I feel unsure, anxious, vulnerable, & not able to control the situation (Newsflash Lise, you’re powerless over people, places & things !!!). Today, I accept that I’ll always struggle w/ some of these feelings, but I have tools, a program, & an ability & willingness to ask for help & “tell on myself” today.

    As far as dealing w/ the credit issue, credit karma.com has some excellent resources as to navigating credit report issues. Also, everyone is entitled to a free annual copy of their report from all 3 credit bureaus, & credit karma has links to get the reports immediately. Like you, we can walk through the hard stuff & I’m grateful for your willingness to “tell on yourself” to so many via this blog. There are SO many who may walk through tough stuff like this because you put your own experience, strength & hope out there. Love you, Erin

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