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400px-Survivor.borneo.logoIf you are a diehard Survivor super-fan, then your calendar is marked and you know today’s a big day. It’s the day the original physically-testing, element-defying, and mentally-challenging reality series kicks-off its 32nd season to find out who can outwit, outplay, and outlast and become the next sole Survivor.

A lot of people already know this about me, but I have auditioned for Survivor five times over a span of 12 years. I have tried out for so long that my first attempt was made by submitting an old-fashioned and homemade VHS tape. Survivor night has always been a sacred night in my house, and my children learned about “tribal council” at a very early age.

After attending multiple open casting calls, I realized that I had a better chance of winning the billion-dollar Powerball than my 60-second video being selected for the next round in the process. But guess what? I should have played the lottery, because two months after my audition in Vail, I received a call out of the blue from a Survivor producer. I was squealing with excitement jumping around like a little girl, and needed a paper bag to catch my breath.

She and I hit it off like twins separated at birth. We had amazing rapport, we laughed, and we swore like a couple of sailors. It was a match made in heaven. I happily jumped through every hoop, filled out a 100-page questionnaire, and submitted a high-quality three-minute video. I was so far over the moon that I lost sight of the reality of this reality show.

Has this ever happened to you? I put the cart before the horse and was counting all my chickens well before they hatched. It’s like spending the extra money before you actually get the raise. I could literally feel the sandy Survivor beach beneath my feet and was already having hunger pains in anticipation of the sparse rice and bean diet. I mapped out an obstacle course in my back yard and started practicing how to make fire from a couple of twigs. I obsessed over what kind of bathing suit I would reluctantly wear on national television, and how I would organize my business so I could be gone for seven weeks. Let’s just say my bags were packed and I was ready to go.

This was such an intense roller coaster ride, and I’m sure you can imagine how it ended. I went from thinking my chances were one in a million to believing I was going to be the next Survivor, and then realizing my ridiculous dreams were not going to be a reality. After submitting multiple videos and awaiting my invitation to interview in person in Los Angeles, I received the disappointing feedback. The top producer decided she didn’t want professional speakers on the show, and I did not come across in an “authentic” way.

I was beyond hurt, heartbroken, shocked, and devastated by the news. I thought for sure I was going to finally get the opportunity to live out my dream. I’m not going to lie…I cried, had a complete tantrum, and swore I would never ever watch another episode of Survivor again. Not my most mature moment, but totally true.

It was a dark day…the day Survivor died. Click to Tweet

I know you may not share the same dream of living on a deserted island with a bunch of strangers, no privacy, and a thousand television cameras capturing every embarrassing moment, but the disappointment is a shared experience. It’s like when my clients are completely convinced they’re going to get a new job offer, a promotion, a big project, or an award, and they don’t.

There is a very fine line between being hopeful and optimistic, and prematurely packing your bags or your office. When you want something so badly, and for so long, it’s hard not to get swept away in the fantasy of finally achieving it. I pride myself on being a pragmatic and skeptical realist, and I completely allowed myself to get swept away and ultimately disappointed.

These are those moments, and those crossroads, where we all have a choice as to how we respond.  Disappointment is a universal experience, and it affects all of us at different times and in different ways, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I’m not sure if I fully understand this reason quite yet, but I hope I’ll be able to set aside the hurt feelings and painful disappointment and tune in tonight…we’ll see.

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