Play the Damn Cards you’re Dealt

May 30, 2018


Sit down at the table of life, and you’re dealt a hand.  The cards drawn are at random, none are exactly the same.  Undoubtedly some get much better than others, and some end up folding before the first round’s even finished.


They say you can’t control what happens to you in life, but that you can control how you deal with the circumstances.  Before I get too philosophical, a short story from my life..


A few days ago I wrote on my experience of breaking my ankle while in Korea.  Financial goals, fitness aspirations, day to day life, and social interests have all been shaken.  It’s upset my life, to say the least.  More on how I plan to adapt to this bust hand I’ve been dealt in a moment.


What really stimulated this writing piece was from my first day back at school after surgery and a week off.

The halfway mark..

The new semester starts in March, and I guess the staff spent some time planning how things will move forward while I was away.  I believe I’ve written multiple times before how I am concerned with the level of lesson planning that is expected of me at this particular school.  Well it’s gotten more intense.


I will note, of all the ESL teachers I’ve come across and spoken so far in Korea – and that’s not a small test group size – none confess having to build a lesson plan nearly close to the extent I’m assigned.


No I am required to create a detailed monthly overview + a further in depth weekly plan.  Which essentially details every move I will make in class.  I am to provide this monthly and weekly for 10 different classes.  I am given a book to base lessons around for most classes, and a relative amount of autonomy for lessons.  But the time requirement for this seems ridiculous.

Now, if this is more common than I’ve been lead to believe and I’m just being a little bitch, I would love to hear so.  Changing my attitude would be easier to swallow than what I assume is me getting the shit end of the stick in regards to a job.


In any case, holding true the fact that we can’t control what happens to us, only how we react to the situation, I figure I’ve got 2 options.  The first would be to dip, take a large financial loss, and deal with the uncertainty of finding a new position.  The grass isn’t always greener.  Second, I buckle up and do what I need to do to finish up the year.  Which means I just deal with putting in the extra effort.


Play the damn cards you’re dealt..

Despite this lesson planning ordeal, the school has been quite good to me.  I’ve had more medical issues in the past 6 months than I’ve had in the past 6 years and they’ve been supportive.  On top of that, the financial loss and complexity of leaving truly outweighs the minor discomfort of staying.


There’s something to be said for seeing through the trials you’ve been placed in and playing out the cards you’ve got as opposed to folding.  In my past I’ve been guilty of throwing in the towel too soon if I wasn’t pleased with the current climate.  Granted, the ability to remove yourself if you’re unhappy with the current situation is considered a luxury of the independent.  I’ve maintained weightlessness in terms of commitments over the last number of years to wield that particular luxury.


The problem with having the ability to flutter about without fear of much consequence, is you usually end up doing so.  Sticking things out and playing through your proverbial hand is character building.


Focus on your hand..

Back to breaking my ankle, and how it’s sent nearly all my short term goals through a loop.  In terms of my job, that’s something I do have some control over. Breaking a bone, mind you, is generally an independent event.  All I can do is adapt and re-adjust course.


Initially, I needed to accept I would be taking a chunk of time off from the gym and my progress would be set back.  Financially I was covered partially from workplace health insurance.   But I was still left to weather a small savings set back.  All of my daily commuting and even just moving from desk to classroom to bathroom.  It has become a bit more complicated.


The first thing I did was adjust my mindset to understand there was no way around these losses of sorts.  And especially to disregard how my progress and temporary lifestyle would hail in comparison to people without a broken appendage.  Or how I would have hypothetically progressed had this not happened.  Spending time in fantasy of what has not or will not happen is only a waste of time.


Similarly to the previous point, I can spend all day all work moaning and groaning in my head that I was unlucky enough to score a gig that required way more administrative work than the majority of my peers.  Or I can just shut up and do the job I’ve accepted.




This practice of focusing on your own situation, and playing the cards in your own hand can be applied to many other facets of life.


A relatable area for many people would be socio-economic background.  It only makes mathematical sense that 1% of the population is born into the 1% of wealth.  People are not created equal and nor are the opportunities they are born into.   You can bitch and hold animosity towards the trust fund baby who has his university degree paid for.   That will not be attributed whatsoever to the position he’ll get in his father’s company that he will eventually take over.  Or you can put it out of your mind.  Focus your mental energies into building your own business and legacy.

Some people are dealt bust hands, some land a royal flush.  It’s just the way life works.  You can’t control the cards you’re given, only how you play the ones do have.


Further to people not being created equally; there’s short people, and there’s tall ones.  Body weight and skin-deep appearance can be manipulated to a certain degree, but height is pretty static.  A 5’7 guy can complain he’ll never get women the way a 6’2 guy will, and he’s probably right.  But he certainly isn’t hopeless.  Play the cards you’re dealt.  Work on what you can change.  A short physically built guy, dressed well is bound to have better lucky than a taller skinny fat slob.


You can’t control the cards you get.  You can control how you play them.


In conclusion..

Whether I took a shitty job or not.  Whether I didn’t complete enough due diligence or made a newbie move is irrelevant at this point in regards to my job.  My cards have been laid and now I must play them to the best of my ability.  All I can do is double down and put forth my best effort to complete the commitment I have made, to all stakeholders involved.

In life sometimes you might win the lottery or hit bankruptcy.  Whether either event makes or breaks you generally is up to you, and how you react to the cards you’ve been dealt.


Have a story of being dealt a particular hand, and how you played it?  I would love to hear from you.


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  • Currently located in China, teaching English and working towards Financial Freedom. I write about money, travel, personal development and more!


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