Finding Joy in Discouragement

Recently I have been really getting into Podcasts,  I know finally jumping on the bandwagon, as podcasts have really exploded in popularity over the last year. Not only are they inspirational and educational, but are also uplifting and make you feel like you want to be new BFF’s with the presenters (like Ana Faris new podcast). Even my husband is a mad fan of ‘How Stuff Works’, and listens to it while exercising or driving. Podcasts are ultimately the multitasker’s best friend.

But I digress. Today’s post is an exciting one for the Tortoiseshell Glasses, as it is my very first guest post. I’d love to introduce you to Lily Liseno. Lily is a true #girlboss; not only is she the owner of Design by Lily Liseno, which focus on graphic and WordPress design, but Lily is also the presenter of Coffee & Feelings a podcast about overcoming mental blocks and fears as a creative. I am very grateful to have Lily on my blog to talk with you all about finding joy in discouragement, and how the struggles we face in life lead us to where we ultimately want to be.



 Finding Joy in Discouragement

Finding Joy in Discouragement

Develop success from failures. Discouragement and
failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
– Dale Carnegie


Discouragement can feel like a real downer. It’s defined as a loss of confidence and spirit. When you lose those two things, anything you do seems to suck inspiration, life, and happiness right out of you. Discouragement may come from a job, a relationship, school, or just the everyday tasks of life. When discouragement arises, your risk for giving up on a project, job, or even a relationship runs high.

So how can we get rid of this feeling?

Well, we may not be able to get rid of it, but we sure can learn to deal with it – and learn a lot about ourselves in the process.

Speaking of discouragement, I taught Kindergarten last year. It was the hardest period of my short little life. I majored in Early Childhood Education and Development (I don’t even remember why I chose that major) and took a job right out of college despite my growing anxiety and confusion towards my career choices. But I needed money and knew finding a job was the next step I “should” take, even though I wasn’t feeling the teaching thing.

Well, I landed a job… that’s for sure. My first week teaching Kindergarten was fun, but as the tasks, tests, and expectations piled up on my plate, I started feeling extremely discouraged. Everyday I felt like I was climbing a ladder and could never reach the top. Everyday the future of these children were hanging over my shoulders. MINE. Everyday I would get phone calls from concerned parents. Everyday I would have to deal with something insanely stressful, like a child knocking over tables and chairs while hitting the other kids, or a child running out of the classroom through the emergency exit door to get away from school. I was so discouraged. I just wasn’t ready for this. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to quit. Even though it was the most stressful time in my life, I learned a lot that year about my needs and limitations through my discouragement.

When I think back to that year, all I see is how much I grew. In the midst of discouragement, I grew so much. I learned what I liked and didn’t like about teaching, I learned how I acted as a leader, I learned how I behaved under pressure, I learned about my compassion, I learned about all I was able to do, and I learned about my limitations. Because I was so discouraged during this period of my life, I knew it was time for me to find what I really loved to do. My discouragement guided me to the point where I finally had to face parts of myself and come to terms with my feelings. I thought to myself, “am I doing this just because I feel like I should? What do I even like to do?” It made me realize, I shouldn’t be doing this anymore. I have limitations. I need something I can handle, something that will challenge me but also bring me happiness. Teaching was a challenge for sure, but it was not bringing me happiness.

After a few months of teaching, I started counseling (something my discouragement lead me to do) and realized a ton of things my discouragement was trying to tell me all along.  Which then of course led me to realize how much I love blogging, web design, and creativity.

Finding Joy in Discouragement

Where is your discouragement coming from?

Think about a time when you were discouraged. You probably felt like you were trying to do something you couldn’t do. You may have felt this way because of perfectionism (not living up to your own expectations or the expectations of others), criticism from others, or plain old fatigue. Those were the three things that constantly came up for me during that crazy year.

I’m going to guess you got through this discouraging time despite the fatigue, perfectionism or criticism and learned a lot about yourself through this experience. Or you left the project, relationship, or whatever was discouraging you behind and walked away. Walking away is also a positive thing (I walked away from my job!) because it means you knew what you wanted, or in this case what you didn’t want.

You may be feeling discouragement right now. Take heart that the fact you are experiencing discouragement means you are growing.

Discouragement is telling you what you need. Because I was discouraged while I was teaching, I realized I had limitations and I did not want to teach after all. We all have limitations, and discouragement allows those limitations to show themselves.

This realization alone allows me to be thankful for my discouragement, despite frustration. Being discouraged means I am growing. I am not moving in reverse, maybe I’m making a slight turn, but I’m still moving forward.

What is your discouragement telling you?

Discouragement is there for a reason. Stop and examine why you are feeling this way. Do you need rest? Do you need to stop and take a break? What have you learned about yourself through this particular discouraging experience? Do you need to change something in your life, or quit doing something that isn’t helpful to you? It could be telling you to do something as simple as going out to get some ice cream or taking a nap, or something as complicated as quitting a job.

No matter what, remember that discouragement is temporary because we are always moving forward. It’s not going to be there forever. When you recognize the cycles of what causes discouragement and what it’s trying to say to, you will be better able to welcome it, learn from it, and let it go.


In spite of everything I shall rise again: I will take up my pencil, which
I have forsaken in my great discouragement, and I will go on with my drawing.
– Vincent Van Gogh

Find the joy in discouragement! Despite it all, you are learning, progressing, and moving forward. Discover what you can learn about yourself in the midst of hard times.



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  1. Interesting. My husband and I often talk about how our emotions are like indicator lights. Like, when I get angry over something, it usually means I am prioritizing something really high. Is it something really worth getting upset about, or is it something I need to re-prioritize to a lower level. I mean seriously, how important is having those socks land in the laundry basket in the whole scheme of life, and is it worth messing up an evening over? Not really. 😀

    1. So very true! There really are some things that get to me too, and I was actually just listening to a Podcast (how topical) about how some creatives actually feel a sense of creative expression from making the bed. It doesn’t make sense in the larger scheme of things, but it is part of our creative outlet to maybe have a room look neat or comfortable? Was very interesting, none the less. Glad you got something from Lily’s post.

    2. I love this way of seeing things! Emotions really are like indicator lights, they have a lot to tell us. It’s hard to figure that out sometimes, but it can be super helpful. Like seeing a sock on the floor could make me upset, but not just because there is a sock on the floor, but because I feel a lack of respect from whoever put it there. Or, it could really just mean I am upset that a sock is on the floor and need to prioritize that lower on my list of things that are important in life haha. 🙂

    1. So hard! But I also feel it is so hard for someone at the age of 17/18 when finishing high school to know what they want to do for the rest of their life or at least know what will make them happy. That’s why I think so many people are going through ‘quarter life crisis’ these days as they feel they need to have it all together, which is almost impossible when you are still growing as a person. Hope you got something out of the post Candy 🙂

    2. I totally felt like that! It was hard for me to say, okay I guess this degree has nothing to do with my future! But it’s valuable nonetheless – I guess it’s just proof now that I got through college and can work with kids. 🙂

  2. I love this – I definitely need to use discouragement as a way to grow more as I use it more as a way to ignore everything I am to do currently.

    1. Yes! It’s super hard in the midst of discouragement to just be like… okay. Calm down, this is just a life lesson here. But I think the more I practice doing that, the easier it gets. It helps me put things in perspective, especially when I look back at things I was discouraged about in the past and seeing how everything turned out despite that discouragement. 🙂

    1. I appreciate you sharing!! 🙂 It’s hard during difficult times to see the good in things, but I find it gets easier the more I do it, and definitely brings me some peace. I really truly think that every negative emotion has a lot to show us about who we are and is a challenge for us to face in order to figure out how to use it in a positive way. 🙂

    1. I’m glad you liked the post! I really love that – people who fail eventually succeed. I believe that failure and discouragement is all about learning about myself and how I operate in the world. It’s such a great tool! 🙂

  3. I love this post – it’s so unique! Sometimes when I’m discouraged it changes my whole mindset and I forget to realise that it’s usually only very temporary. It’s great to step back and see discouragement from a bigger picture and realise it’s usually a phase that will pass.

    Hope you have a great weekend x

    1. So true Margarita, and such a positive takeaway from Lily’s post. I am forever the optimist myself, but sometime things happen outside our control and it is really hard to get back into the right mindset, but I love how you said it ‘it’s usually only very temporary’. <3

    2. Sometimes being discouraged really overtakes my emotions, but it really helps me to figure out my cycles and realize that it’s only temporary! I’m glad you liked the post 🙂

  4. Oh boy can I relate. Months before graduating with my sociology degree, I was thinking about switching my major to graphic design or something with animals. Ever since then, I have worked in social work for a nonprofit and love it, have learned a ton, and have also learned that working directly with helping people is just not for me. I still have no regrets and am so glad I have this experience. But the 2 years since I have graduated college, I still think about both graphic design and an animal career. I am already enrolled in an intro vet tech class currently, So this fall I am going back to school full time. I’m still on the fence about which one I want to do more, so I figure why not double major… as great as my job still is, there were many times that I was sitting in my office researching these other career fields, just feeling discouraged. But you are really right about using it as fuel instead of making it cause you to feel worse. Great read! I am glad you found your niche 🙂

    1. What an exciting adventure you are about to head out on. A dual degree sounds like the perfect idea, actually when I was at Uni they are not offering Law and Creative Writing together to allow students to have the best of both worlds (and keep their parents happy). I really hope you find your calling, and remember to always try and find the silver lining, or what a confusing situation can teach you. 🙂

    2. Wow thanks for sharing that story! I am so happy for the experience I had as a teacher, even though it was really stressful. It’s made me realize a lot about myself. Good luck on your double major! 🙂

    1. Really loved that you got something out of the post, Kerona! I think it is so important to remember what we can learn from the hard time, and the great things waiting for us in the future. <3

  5. “Being discouraged means I am growing. I am not moving in reverse, maybe I’m making a slight turn, but I’m still moving forward.” Ah! I love this post- (I recently wrote about grace in disappointment) and it is so encouraging to read other perspectives and affirmations:) Thank you for sharing your story and what you learned through the journey!

  6. This is a great article! We’re so busy trying to distract ourselves from negative feelings but really it’s a learning moment and like you suggest, we should do some introspection!

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