Letting go of missed opportunities

Tuesday November 13 2018

New opportunities keep coming our way until we draw our last breath on earth.

New opportunities keep coming our way until we draw our last breath on earth. PHOTO| FOTOSEARCH 

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You have heard it said that opportunity comes once in a lifetime right? I beg to disagree. I think opportunities come over and over again until we draw our last breath on earth.

They may not come in the exact form that we experienced but they still come. They pop up in different—not better—forms giving us a brand new opportunity to make choices that shape how our lives pan out.

Think of all the crushes you have had to date. All those break-ups that left you certain that your life was over. Then even before the heartbreak tears were dried up someone else slipped into your life and your broken heart began warming up to them. Remember how baffled you were by your fluttering heart and you said to it:

Heart, you were broken less than a week ago. You ached hours on end and urged me to go chase after him. Didn't you fight the brain, tell me to swallow my pride, and compromise? Now you are suffering spontaneous palpitations over a stranger’s bearded Facebook profile?

But your heart could not be deterred. DeBarge was right when he sang about the heart not being so smart.

Anyway, a few days later you fell head over heels in love with the guy giving Idris Elba a run for his 'sexiest man alive' title and got yourself a brand new relationship. Maybe even lived happily ever after.


Think of that dream job that ended without any warning. You know, that job that felt like it would always be there. One minute you were swimming in excesses, life was a party; and the next you were sending out job applications every day like it's a morning devotion subscription, hoping against all hope that someone would take your application into 'kind consideration.'

And one day as you stared at your inbox as if trying to conjure up an interview invite, this acquaintance called you.

"Hey, long time. How have you been?"

" I am doing fine-" you answered robotically because we have been trained to say we are fine even when we haven't had a decent meal in weeks and are drowning in debt.

She went on to ask if you would be willing to consider a job offer that she felt suited you perfectly.

"Look, it is not much but I believe you can work yourself up once you get in. I think you have what it takes, so what do you say?" she asked in that soothing voice that made you feel like all was going to be alright. You agreed to take the job and it turned out to be the greatest thing to ever happen to your career thus far.


Life hits us with highs and lows in equal measure that change how we see things. Nothing relieves as a turn of fortunes after being hit by life’s curve balls. When things take a turn for the better we embrace that wholeheartedly, gratefully.

However, sometimes, we cannot help but wonder 'what if...' and especially when what we lose is not something we would readily term as "good riddance."

Sometimes we lose things courtesy of our own undoing and we wonder, suppose I had not pushed him away? What if I had resisted that urge to cheat on an otherwise wonderful woman?

What if I had put in a few more days in that organisation? What if I put in some more effort in that project?


These reflections often occur to us when we are aware that we did not give it our best. And so that job, that opportunity, that relationship remains to be the one that got away.

The one that slipped through the cracks. The one we will never know what it would have become but there is this gut feeling that it would have been amazing.

As the year comes to a close, there could be several things that feel like you lost them--to put it casually--just like that. You may be blaming yourself for not giving it your best, maybe you even have whiffs of regret.

I often take comfort in knowing that I may not always give everything my best. As a flawed being, sometimes I won't even have a decent reason for not giving something my all.

As a result of this, many potentially good things have slipped through my fingers, many have become "the ones that got away."


What keeps me going though is acknowledging that the missed opportunities belong in the past. I try not to allow that feeling of past losses steal the thunder from my present and take away my joy.

This has helped me avoid the trap of being caught up in the bottomless dark pit of what-ifs, especially now that we are less than two months shy of starting a brand new year.

My hilarious friend often reminds me not to cry over spilt milk but instead get a cow and learn how to milk. What he means is that I should learn from all those missed opportunities and use the lessons to sustain a happier and more content life with the other opportunities that will surely show up.