I think one of the worst, non-life threatening, non-trauma inducing feelings that a person can experience is disappointment. And we’ve all experienced it. But it’s those unspoken moments of disappointment that overtime stir change upon change and I guess contributes to building character.
You know, the little disappointments that aren’t a big enough deal to talk about, but hurt you enough that you dwell on it silently. You keep it to yourself because you don’t want to seem dramatic or ungrateful.
It starts off when you’re a kid and you realise quickly that Santa and the tooth fairy aren’t real, even though your family and friends have evidence to the contrary.
Or kids make fun of the way that you look because you have small eyes and apparently that isn’t cool, it isn’t pretty. And no one stands up for you.
Your best friend writes in a birthday card that you aren’t ugly, you are just normal looking.
Later your best friend in high school tells you that are such a responsibility, because they are ditching you for the cool kids.
Okay so I can’t hold that against them because they were just kids. But even in my adult life there have been a lot of times where I really expected people to be there for me, and they weren’t. And I felt disappointed.
And as time went by I guess I silently also began to realise that this was quite a lot of disappointment for me to deal with. Obviously like I said, not disappointment to a horrific degree, but just enough to feel hurt by it quietly. And at first I naturally wondered what was wrong with me. Why did I have to deal with this? If it was a way for me to build character, I decided I didn’t want it. I questioned my worthiness and thought maybe I just wasn’t good enough to be valued by the people around me and hence why they disappointed me.
But then I realised that no one intends to disappoint you. It is not anyone’s primary goal at all. I also realised that the common denominator in all of this was me. And as I slowly developed a somewhat normal level of self esteem, I realised that the constant disappointment by others wasn’t because I was unworthy or a bad person… it didn’t reflect on how the people around me perceived me at all. I was being constantly disappointed because my expectations of people were too unrealistic. And I was selfish to think that people would be supporting me when they probably needed support as well!
Because at the end of the day we are all human beings. We all have our own agendas and our life’s purpose is about furthering our agendas. So we can only expect people to look out for themselves. And we can be self-aware enough to reflect on whether our negative feelings are a consequence of us looking out for ourselves.
And some people might say this is a cynical way of looking at things. But I think that it is a realistic perspective. Obviously you expect people to be kind and decent which is a given but when you don’t expect people to be there for you or to support you, and instead you expect them to be there for themselves… the inevitable disappointment fades away.
And then a beautiful thing happens- when someone is actually there for you and shows support for you then you genuinely appreciate it much more. And in turn, you start to think of how you can be less self-involved and more supportive of others around you.