One’s best success comes after their greatest disappointments. ~ Henry Ward Beecher
Disappointments come throughout our life. Just the other day I ordered a grilled vegetarian sandwich with sweet potato and Portobello mushrooms. I thought I’d be adventurous and try something new. I’ve since discovered sweet potatoes don’t belong in a sandwich unless you enjoy the taste of spackling paste with mushrooms. “Why didn’t I order the pasta bowl? I know I like that,” I lamented.
Disappointments can be small like the vegetarian sandwich, or huuuu-ge like the Bachelorette not airing for one week and you have nothing to watch Monday night. Some disappointments seem even more enormous. After a test for a job position, the examiner says, “Thank you for your effort.” Then, as you exit, you notice the examiner wadding your test paper into a paper ball and tossing it in the trash. Or how about the disappointment that comes after interviewing for a job? The interviewer says, “You’re exactly what we’re looking for.” You get pretty excited and anticipate the next sentence will entail your salary, benefits, and start date. Instead the interviewer says, “We have a few more candidates to interview before a decision is made.” Two weeks later you get a phone call from the company you applied to. An assistant of an assistant informs in a flat tone, “You were not accepted for the position.” Obviously someone who they weren’t looking for got the job.
I learned about disappointments at an early age.
Around Christmastime, my mom asked my sister and I to give her a list of things we’d like for Christmas. At age seven, I knew exactly what I wanted ~ a real, live chimpanzee. I’d seen one of these irresistibly cute, toddler-sized monkeys on a television program. It romped around in jeans and a T-shirt, held its owner’s hand, and munched bananas very politely. I couldn’t help thinking how fun it would be to have my own chimpanzee. On Christmas morning, I discovered a life-size, stuffed, toy chimpanzee dressed in a baseball uniform resting by the Christmas tree. “Uh, I wanted a real one,” I told my mom. She smiled as if she thought I had just said something funny.
This is Zippy, my first disappointment.
Disappointments just kept on coming as my life rolled on. My first year in college a cute boy from my English Lit class left a note on my car window. He wanted to know if I’d go out with him. I thought he had a girlfriend. Lucky for me, I thought wrong. Mike picked me up at my home and we took a spin in his car for a lovely dinner at Taco Bell. After dining on burritos next to the outdoor fire pit and chatting above the busy traffic, Mike took me home. The next day I learned from a mutual friend that Mike’s ex-girlfriend worked at Taco Bell and Mike had taken me there to make her jealous. I hated Taco Bell after that.
There are other disappointments, such as the time a friend invited me to lunch at her home and served octopus. “I thought I’d try something different,” she said with a beaming grin. I tried to chew her exotic cuisine to be polite while dreaming of pizza. I would have preferred to eat rubber bands or a plate full of Wacky Wallwalkers. I had to think of an easy escape before I learned dessert involved sea urchins, abalone, and fish eyes.
You don’t always get the lunch you hoped for or the color of car you dreamed of. I’ll never forget the time I wanted the convertible VW in Salsa red and only silver VWs were available. The salesman pointed out the Salsa red cars cost an extra $3,000 and would involve a 10-year (or was it 20-year?) wait. I settled for silver. Who cares about Salsa red anyway? That reminds me, I hate Taco Bell.
Not a VW, but it’s a convertible and red. Besides, I like Karen Kingsbury greeting cards. They make me happy.
So how does one handle disappointment? An article in the Emotional Fitness column in Psychology Today (June 20, 2011) suggests you consider disappointments as a blessing in disguise. If you didn’t get the job, just imagine that evil might have happened if you had been given the position. You might have suffered a serious injury from a falling beam while at your new job. Your new co-worker might have had feelings of envy over your spiffy new outfit and tripped you under the guise of an accident. “Oh, I’m sorry,” your new co-worker gushes. “Did my foot just stick out at the same time you were walking by?” Thank goodness you didn’t get the job. You would be in the hospital right now.
“One of God’s greatest gifts is unanswered prayers,” the article states. Although I might change the “is” in that sentence to “can be” as God’s yes can be the greatest gift too. Sometimes you get the job, the house, the red car, the cute boyfriend, and a lunch that doesn’t involve tentacles. The article warns the Disappointee not to pout when disappointment comes as it could morph into anger, which would probably cause you to throw chairs or flip tables. Perhaps trip a co-worker (accidentally, of course). The article continues with a reminder to the reader that not everyone gets what they want, citing “even (italics mine) Paris Hilton had to do a little prison time.” The article implies Paris in prison gives us all hope that justice does prevail at times.
Only Paris knows how to turn a disappointing stint in the slammer into a dazzling fashion statement.
This brings me to the conclusion. We can choose our reaction. We can complain, get even, become an immense irritation to others. Or we can deal constructively with our disappointment by not doubting ourselves (repeat after me “I’m flawed and I’m fabulous”~I got that off a Dove chocolate wrapper). Also, we can seek solutions and make adjustments and refocus new goals.
And of course learn from our past choices that didn’t turn out as planned and order the pasta bowl.