Hope is great, but it comes with a downside—disappointment. When we’re hit with this feeling after being hopeful, it hurts. There is really no way around it. The more time we spend fantasizing about how amazing it would be to win, the greater our disappointment is likely to be when we lose.
However, disappointment is a part of life. In relationships, schools, things, and in ourselves. Ever since I was little, I have expected my relationships with friends to go a certain way. However, they didn’t always steer in that direction. At one point, I was tired of being let down by the people I care about. Sometimes, it can even be hard to tell if we should give our friend another chance or try to move on – is it even them or is it us? Over time though, I’ve realised how in real life, it is rare to find one person who will fit all the “boxes” we expect the people around us to fill, and for this it is important to know what to expect from people. For example, if we know we have a fake friend, we may choose not to rely on them for plans to hang out. Instead, we could decide to see them spontaneously or with a group of people, so the consequences of them not showing up aren’t severe (and heartbreaking!).
Similarly with things, we must remind ourselves that if we buy into the myths of perfection, we will end up hurting ourselves and the people in our lives. Myths that we pick up from movies, songs, and simply what the world or Instagram highlight reels are telling us will often clash with reality. Instead, we can avoid the stress and suffering by accepting that life isn’t meant to be perfect, and so we don’t have to be perfect. For this I have learnt to adjust my expectations a little bit – what do I think is realistically possible to achieve with what I have? This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t dream big. But if we do, we need to have a healthy relationship with failure and setbacks. Instead, I like to dream big while taking tiny steps.
Also, when I am disappointed with how a situation turns out, I ask myself: Will this matter in 2 years? Or even 2 weeks? So many times I have lost in petty class quizzes/competitions and felt like a complete loser. But asking myself the above questions is the one thing that has helped me greatly to not make mountains out of molehills and instantly feel better.
All in all, disappointment is unnerving because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try, we can never control other people or external circumstances. The good news is that we have the power to control ourselves! Our thoughts, our attitudes, our actions. So, when reality doesn’t match your picture of what could have been, choose to look for beauty in the rubble. Choose optimism.