It is inevitable that we will have experiences in life that make us question everything we thought we believed.

From bad breakups to losing a loved one, to not getting the job we wanted, to the million other curve balls that get thrown our way, life has handed all of us a fair share of challenges. The trials and tribulations we encounter can make us stronger, wiser and sometimes, tougher. At the root of our problems and lessons we’ve learned, we all are ultimately in search of the same thing: happiness.

However, certain setbacks in life can harden us to the world as the result of a defensive coping mechanism. We believe that if we shut off our feelings and develop a tough exterior, it will prevent us from being hurt again or from feeling sad about a rejection.

The truth is, although being hard and cold to our surroundings may keep out unwanted feelings and disappointments, it also hinders us from experiencing life. Often, we focus on being happy so much that we forget it is okay and only human to experience feelings other than happiness.

Sadness after a breakup or the loss of a loved one is normal. Disappointment after not being hired for your dream job is expected. Frustration and confusion are normal when moving to a new school or city. It is normal to experience emotions other than happiness 100 percent of the time.

Anyone who makes you believe that they are happy 100 percent of the time is deceiving themselves and others. Trust me, I’ve been there before; it is not healthy for us to pretend that life is perfect. People appreciate you more and find you more relatable when they don’t think you’re a robot with a single emotion.

The key to life is to not dwell in any emotion but to learn from life’s lessons and grow from them. With every experience we have, we should take away a lesson and grow wiser. It is true that what does not kill you makes you stronger, but there is a fine line between growing stronger, and growing harder and cold.

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Whenever we are faced with difficult roadblocks in life, there are four things we should always remember:

Rejection ≠ Failure

Rejection is a part of life that at some point, every person will face. The key to overcoming rejection is to know that it does not equal failure. When one door slams in our faces, another door of opportunity is waiting to be opened.

Welcome Emotion

As I mentioned earlier, it is normal to have emotions other than happiness; we are wired to experience the full gamut of emotions. We should allow ourselves to feel emotions without having to dwell on them. Be happy, sad, angry, frustrated, lonely and excited. Whatever emotions you have, feel them. Feel your emotions, but allow them to be temporary.

Emotions — especially those that make us feel badly — should not be permanent states of being.

Learn From Lessons

We should think of setbacks in life as tools to help us grow and learn. If we fail a test, we must figure out why and improve for next time. If we get into arguments with our roommates, we must figure out the problem and work together to improve.

Every experience we have in life allows for a learning experience — about ourselves and about others. We should focus on improving our perceptions and ourselves so that the next time an opportunity arises, we are ready.

Don’t Be A Rock When You Really Are A Gem

Lauryn Hill said it best when she said, “Don’t be a hard rock when you really are a gem.”

Life throws setbacks and roadblocks at all of us; however, the world should not be able to take away our joy and peace.