Life is chock full of disappointments. More for some than for others. I have had so many I have lost count. Disappointments in friends, in jobs, in opportunities, in family members, etc. While I believe that nobody comes out unscathed, I also believe that some of us face more than our fair share of disappointments. I would fall in that category. I think my identities play a large role in the amount of disappointments that I face. I am fat, disabled, chronically ill, trans, queer and economically challenged. I am also a first-generation student, from a working-class family, mentally ill and a person in recovery. Given these realities, it not that surprising that life would not go my way much of the time.
What does a person do with disappointments? That is the big question. Obviously disappointments are going to cause a range of emotions, including rage, anger, sadness, frustration, bitterness and depression. I have faced all of these and more. I think when faced with disappointment, a person has to allow themselves to lean into their emotional response. The dangerous part is when someone tries to avoid an emotional response. The only way through is through. There is no way to avoid or even take a shortcut through your response to a major disappointment.
I wish disappointments never happened. They royally suck. I know they contribute to my depression. An example of disappointment is having my writing rejected for publication. I have nothing but the utmost respect for professional writers who face rejection again and again to get published but they keep on sending their stuff in. I was rejected around 10 times and I just gave up. I took each rejection very personally and was angry at the people who rejected my work. I’m SO glad I do not have to do peer-reviewed articles as part of my job. That is rejection on steroids, or long anonymously-penned comments about how and why your article sucks. Disappointments can really gnaw away at you. They can lead to that dangerous emotion called bitterness, which eats away at the host and does nothing whatsoever to the cause of your disappointment.
I can’t really say anything “positive” about disappointments. What I can say is that they present an opportunity. They present an opportunity for you to take care of yourself. Self-care is always important. But it is vitally important when you are facing disappointments. Disappointments can affect your self-esteem. They can make you feel like a “loser.” I know I have certainly faced that feeling. “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I be successful? Why can’t I win?” The internal monologue can go very negative very quickly. This is when you know that some self-care is desperately needed. We are so much more than our list of disappointments. Our very lives are a brilliant success. This is particularly true for people who face multiple forms of oppression. We can take pride in our every survival. Everything else is icing on the cake.
When you face disappointment, do whatever it is you need to do to spread some healing balm on yourself. Customize your self-care and indulge yourself. You are more than the rejections that you face. You are a child of God and you deserve to be proud of every achievement you have ever made. I know how much disappointments hurt and how much they suck. This is all the more reason to treat yourself with the utmost kindness. You deserve to celebrate your existence and all that you have achieved. Love the successes and even the disappointments for they have made you exactly who you are. And you, my friend, are a shining star!