I have heard people say that 2020 is cancelled. We are living in cancel culture times, where the instant someone or something does something that is seen as offensive, the general masses are expected to withdraw their support. While, I do not believe this leaves any room for atonement and redemption, I am not going to police people and tell them who or what to support. What I will say though is that perhaps we should take a deeper look at what the disappointments from 2020, and what disappointments in general can teach us. Once we take a look at that we can then take steps to move forward. Undoubtedly, 2020 has doled out an overdose disappointment. We could probably sum up the whole whole year by the word disappointment. The dictionary defines disappointment as sadness or displeasure at the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes or expectations. Have you felt this in your life? Have you felt this emotion at some point this year? Check out this week’s YouTube video on Life after Disappointment. https://youtu.be/mR96KxKcaGQ
I have. I am one of those people who has the calendar planned out as far as I can go. I love experiences—strolling through the bookstore, having a delicious meal with sweet conversations with friends and family. I love live music and theater, but mostly, I love to travel. I love airports, nice hotels, waking up in a new place and wondering what I will see. I love that no matter where I am in the world, most people are still facing the same issues, and still finding ways to live and love their life. So you can probably imagine my own disappointment this year when everything started to get wiped off my calendar. Outings to concerts, Hamilton, Once on this Island, and so much more. I had gatherings with friends, a reunion trip to Comic Con with my friends of 20 years. My friends from university and I were to converge on San Diego, spend days sitting by the beach and reminiscing, picking up where we last left off. I also had trips to Thailand, Singapore, and the UK scheduled with my love. While we have both been the the UK, neither of us have ever gone to Thailand or Singapore. I had spent hours in the bookstore perusing sites to visit, foods to eat, and just planning out what to look forward to. Adventure called. You can imagine how my heart hurt; but my own disappointment was mild in comparison to those who suddenly found themselves without work, or in the midst of illness, loss, and grief. Many friends of mine—especially those in the service industry or in the arts found themselves out of work, wondering what was next, or how they were going to pay the bills. My family and friends in health care spoke to me with weary voices, tired and fatigued from what they had seen on the front lines. Often disappointment does not come by itself. It is accompanied at times by anger, hurt, resentment, frustration, and sadness.
As the days turned into weeks and then into months, I have asked myself the question many times. What is it that this year—2020 is trying to teach us? Rest? Recharge? Move in a new direction? Tend to our health? Spend time on the things that matter? All of those things perhaps, but also, once we have regrouped from the disappointments, we must ask: What can we learn from disappointment?
In looking back at my own life, each time that I have felt profound disappointment, somewhere down the line, I could see how that previous painful moment was paving the way for something better for me. And its not just me—I am sure if you pause and look at your own life you may see a moment where your disappointment was palpable. This is not to say that some things are easily explained in life. Some of us have lost people in this time, or an entire livelihood. I don’t have an explanation for why that is, but I hope that once you have grieved, that you will move forward with your life.
Many famous folks have recounted their own tales of how disappointment spurned some amazing moments in their life. There is a saying, “Man plans, and God laughs.” We may plan for things to go a certain way, but we must realize that things may not always go according to our plan. Sometimes the stars aligning in ways that we do not expect. Yet, we must always expect that life is conspiring on our behalf.
In my own life I have experienced countless disappointments, and what felt like failures. Only now I see that life was trying to encourage me to move in another direction. I graduated from law school in 2008 at the height of a global recession. I wanted to practice immigration law but small firms were shuttering, and it just seemed that no one was hiring. I sent out over 300+ letters and resumes. My mailbox was filled with rejection letters. I cried, but I picked myself up and kept trying. I ultimately made the decision to leave my home state and my comfort zone and move to the East Coast. Not only did I obtain a career that I enjoy immensely, I also saw how that disappointment was meant to push me outside of my comfort zone. It also lined me up for some other major life events.
I have also had relationship disappointments. These led to some pretty major heartaches and ultimately some soul searching. With each “failed” relationship, I received much needed clarity about what I wanted, what I would not stand for, and where I needed to heal in my own life. When I got divorced in my late 20’s, I left an abusive relationship. I felt so foolish, like how could I get myself in that situation. I felt that I had failed at love and that I had wasted precious years of my life. I went through a period of massive healing, and it was definitely not easy. Healing is often messy, painful, and so many people avoid doing the work. But when I was able to strip away everything that I thought I wanted, and everything that I thought I knew about myself—I discovered me. The authentic me. With therapy and other magical tools, I developed a deep relationship with the divine. This ultimately led me to a healthy and beautiful relationship. I have no regrets about the past disappointments.
My disappointments were also tied to my ego. I felt that if I didn’t achieve a certain thing, or if I failed at something, I would be exposed—people would see me and judge me harshly. But I was the one doing the judging to myself. I was my worst critic. In this life, we will fall, but we must never stay down. We have to get up again.
Someone once said, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived moving forward.” And so, how do we get from the point of disappointment to the point of transforming and transmuting that experience into something good?
1. Sit with the emotions. Do not cast your feelings away, each one is valid. As a human being, we are granted a wide spectrum of emotion. Each provides us with an important message. Disappointment can usually be accompanied by sadness, anger, or denial. Feel those things, but promise you won’t stay too long in emotions that drain your energy.
2. Be kind to yourself. Do not take the disappointment as a reflection of who you really are. You are still smart, still beautiful, still courageous, still kind, still able to move forward.
3. Do a SWOT analysis. In business, SWOT means, “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats.” Business uses this as part of their business strategy, but I think it is useful as well for humans. I just change weakness to “areas for development” and threat to “unknown factors.” What are your strengths, where do you need more training? Certifications? Healing? What are the opportunities that you can see? What do you want? And what are some factors to consider? Economy? Another person’s issues? Timing?
4. Keep moving forward. Try again, try something else, or make your own opportunities.
5. Get the energy out in productive ways. Exercise, meditate, spend time in nature to clear your mind.
6. Realize that what happened may not be about just you. We are all connected like a spider’s web across this great planet. Sometimes you are the stepping stone in another’s destiny. My friend Desi always says to me. You don’t know what role you play in the grand scheme of things. Do you think Dr. King’s grandmother knew that her grandson would change this nation?
7. Believe in yourself, and know that you are worthy and deserving of good things
These are just a few ways to move forward after disappointment. I do believe that like Oprah says, disappointment is life’s way of moving us in a different direction. It is a delay but it is not a denial of who we are meant to be. Our birthright is to triumph. I believe that for you. Sending you so much love and positive vibrations. Have a beautiful love filled week.