All Articles Tagged "disappointment"
What Happens When It Hurts To Hope For The Best? How A Personal Defense Mechanism Began To Cripple My Faith
There are few emotions that grip my heart like disappointment. There’s just something about having my heart set on something and then realizing that it won’t happen that is so devastating. Sure, no one likes to be disappointed, but when I set my heart on something, I want it with every fiber of my being. I suppose this intense wanting developed during my childhood. I’ve been blessed with really amazing parents. There was almost nothing that I asked them for that they didn’t make an effort to provide me with. “You’re such a good girl. You never give us any problems,” they’d almost say in unison as they handed over whatever I’d previously asked them for. Although I don’t believe that this is the message that they were necessarily seeking to convey, I grew up believing that as long as you’re a good person who follows the rules, good things will come to you. I still find this philosophy to be partially true, but the real world taught me that things don’t always work out this way.
Once my wish list matured and my desires changed from Easy-Bake Ovens and My Size Barbies to an acceptance letter from my dream college and a position at my dream job, things my parents couldn’t necessarily “give me,” I was stung by the harsh reality that life isn’t exactly a fairy tale. Everything that you desire won’t just come to you because you work hard and you’re a good person and some things simply are not meant to be. My tiny world had expanded from the cozy, suburban fortress that my parents had built for me, blocking out many of life’s very real truths, and I was thrust into the real world, quickly learning the life lesson that things don’t always go as planned.
I found some of my first major let downs very difficult to handle. Having never felt disappointment so intensely, I made up my mind that I never wanted to feel it again. So I began conditioning myself to put up this emotional wall. I wouldn’t allow myself to want anything too intensely because in my mind hoping was causing more pain than it was worth. As strange as it may sound, I morphed into one of those people who pray for the best, but expected and prepared for the worst. Although this way of thinking probably spared me plenty of hurt feelings when things didn’t go my way, it severely damaged another important aspect of my life – my faith.
As a Christian, one of the pillars of my beliefs is faith. Over and over we hear scriptures like “Without faith, it’s impossible to please God” and “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” It wasn’t until I was driving home one evening that I realized my hope-killing defense mechanism was also destroying my faith. After much soul searching (and prayer), I learned that it is possible to maintain balance, allow my faith to “grow” and still semi-protect myself from life’s let downs by reminding myself of the following truths:
1. Above all else, trust God. He knows best.
2. Even if it doesn’t make sense now, almost everything happens for a reason.
3. Being told no is not the end of the world.
4. Disappointments are not to be owned or internalized.
Sure life is has its curveballs and let downs, but it’s also filled with amazing moments, wonderful opportunities and spectacular surprises. Today, I can confidently say that I’ve found the courage to hope.
Follow Jazmine Denise on Twitter @jazminedenise.
I was having a conversation with a friend the other day about setting time limits for yourself when pursuing a man. For almost a year she’s basically been rearranging her social calendar so it can accommodate the “chance” that this guy might finally pay her some attention, while he has lived his life with no consideration for the part she may or may not play in it. 6 months is my limit. If you’ve spent half a year, texting, direct messaging, calling and lastly confronting and he has made zero effort to show you he’s interested, it’s time to chalk it up and cut your losses.
I’m realizing that’s kind of what a quarter life crisis feels like. You reach a point in your life where you realize if you haven’t hit certain markers to achieve your goals, it may be time to get new ones. It’s plagued by the sobering thought that as much as you want your dream, it may not return those same feelings. For months I’ve been fighting this lump of anxiety in my chest and fleeting feelings of failure and inadequacy. And I can’t help but feel guilty because on paper, my life actually looks pretty good. I have a profession that I enjoy going to everyday where I get to help young people AND get paid. I’ve recently gotten into a tax bracket that gives me the promise of financial stability, I’m surrounded by a select few family and friends that love and support me and I’ve gained a following from freelance writing that gives me a nice paycheck on the side. But as I approach thirty more and more come creeping the reminders of goals that I had hoped to accomplish by my late twenties.
I can’t have possibly peaked yet, I just got started being an adult. This can’t be as good as life gets. I remember when I just graduated high school. I was a late-bloomer. I wasn’t quick to get excited about goal setting and career paths. I was happy if I could get off work early from the Dairy Queen on a pay Friday and spend the weekend away with my boyfriend in his dorm. I didn’t want for much and in many ways that was the best time of my life. But then a few years later I decided I wanted more than being my boyfriend’s bottom broad and “soft serve operator” listed under my special skills on a resume. That’s when my very own American Dream started forming and I realized I wanted a job that didn’t encourage you to wear jeans, real bills that looked good on my credit report like a mortgage and a car note, and I even got a career goal: I wanted to be a writer. I’ve been blogging for about two years and while I didn’t expect to be Necole Bitchie by now, I guess I just would have hoped to have made a little more progress. In many areas of my life I feel like I’m working harder and harder and seeing less and less recognition for it. And I have to be honest, as passionate as I am about something I love to do, at the end of the day we all want to be recognized, not on the cover of Us Weekly necessarily, but appreciated and noted for your work. Even better if you can be compensated at the same time.
Facebook has a way of making you feel like the biggest loser in the world when you’re posting about your new Jessica Simpson wedges you nabbed on sale while your friends are posting their shiny princess cut engagement rings or their newly decorated nurseries. I also noticed friends that I swore were riding with me to the end are now veering onto some paths of vastly different priorities. I always found comfort in the fact that I was in pursuit of something great, and for that I had to sacrifice rushing into being someone’s wife or mother. I was going to be a writer; I had a blog and 246 Twitter followers who were fans of my work to prove it. But as I checked my blog stats on New Year’s Day and they weren’t what I hoped, I found myself wondering if I’ve been wasting my time. Just like I told my friend in pursuit of her Mr. Right, maybe I had missed some key red flags that should have happened to signal that I could experience some significant success as a writer.
I really wanted to work for President Obama’s campaign. Like, really, really wanted to. For months, I must have applied to nearly every opening on the website…and received no response.
One day, whilst toiling away at a job I absolutely hated in a field I wasn’t remotely interested in, a friend sent me a message out of the blue: “Digital Organizer opening at Obama for Ohio. You should apply! [link].” This friend had no idea just how many times I’d applied for that opening (and others!) with no response, but I decided to give it another shot.
Working for a political campaign was not my ultimate career dream. No, I wanted a job in television. I’d graduated with high honors with a degree in broadcast journalism and subsequently applied to nearly every market in the country. Not only had I not gotten a single interview, except for a few auto-reply emails, I didn’t even get a response. So, because no one gets paid to job search, I worked other places in the meantime. In the span of about three years, I was a personal banker, a cashier, a personal assistant, and an administrative assistant – and I hated every single one of those jobs. The kind of hate that would have me crying in the car during break — tears, snot and self-loathing. Oddly, almost immediately after I chewed my foot out of one bear trap of a job, I would find myself signing on for another only to be back in the car crying days later.
The only job I hadn’t hated in the past several years was when I worked as a social media manager for the mayor’s re-election campaign. It was the most random job and I got it in the most unconventional way, but it turned out to be the best job I ever had! After that campaign was over, in a moment of sheer insanity, I took another job I knew I’d hate. And I definitely hated it. I wanted to go back to working for political campaigns because I decided that if I couldn’t get a job in TV, then working for political campaigns would be the next best thing.
I remembered that when I was working for the mayor’s campaign, I had met a few people who worked for Obama’s campaign. One of those people was the state director for Obama for Ohio, so I emailed him directly letting him know I was interested in the digital organizer position if he was still looking for someone. He forwarded my info to the Digital Director and she contacted me!
The interview was over the phone and it seemed to go really well. I had the educational background, experience, time, energy and I drive an American-made car. It was perfect! She said they were going to get some more information from me and I would hear back from someone else for a second interview soon.
I never heard back.
Eventually, I received the dreaded “thank you for your interest” generic email and I was devastated. I had been so excited after that phone interview that I told everyone I could think of that I may get the job for Obama’s campaign. So, of course, people were asking me how my second interview went. “It didn’t” was my less than upbeat reply.
At that point, in terms of my career, I felt I was looking up at rock bottom. It seemed that everyone around me was getting great jobs they loved, yet no one would hire me to do work I was interested in. I continued applying for jobs, fellowships and internships but faced disappointment after disappointment. Closed door after closed door. I was frustrated and bitter, but I couldn’t give up.
A couple of months after Obama’s campaign didn’t hire me, I decided to audition for a local television hosting job. It was a shot in the dark, but I thought to myself, “they have to hire someone so they may as well hire me.” The audition process was a grueling two months and I wanted that job more than I wanted any other job in my entire life. “If I don’t win,” I informed my husband dramatically, “I will be underneath our bed and not coming out for at least a month.”
Ironically, the audition process ended the same day President Obama won re-election. The next week, the network announced that I was chosen as a host. I got my dream job!
For a moment, I considered emailing Ohio’s Digital Director for Obama to thank her for not hiring me. If I had been working for the President’s re-election campaign, I would not have had time to audition for the hosting gig. And I wanted that television job way more than I wanted to work for Obama’s campaign.
Isn’t that funny how life works? You can want something so bad – a job, a particular guy, admission to a certain grad program – and it just doesn’t happen for you. In those hard times, it can be difficult to stay encouraged when you’re getting nothing but discouraging news. Eventually things do turn in your favor though and, when that happens, you know exactly why Dalai Lama once said: “Sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.”
I once wrote about an emotionally abusive relationship I was in a few years ago. As hard as it was to discuss it to a bunch of people I don’t know (you amazing Madame Noire readers), it was even harder discussing it with people that I did know well. My friends, though they might not have understood why I stayed, or what my mindset was while I was going through it, were very understanding of me. However, my family… well, that was a different story.
I was raised in a two-parent household. My father, being the head of a family of four daughters and a wife, always tried to tell us about how a man should treat a woman. He would tell us us how we shouldn’t take certain things, and reminded us that no matter what, we are beautiful and deserve to be treated with respect in all aspects of our lives. My mother told us the same things, and reminded us to place high value on ourselves. So when I revealed to my family what happened in my past relationship, it was as if I could feel the heaviness on my father’s heart and I could see in his eyes a feeling of failure. My sisters and mother couldn’t understand either, and they would engage me in conversations, trying to figure out why I committed to staying with him all that time: ”Okay… so WHY didn’t you leave???”
Things got even stickier when I decided to see a counselor at my college. I remember telling my father and having him yell, “That’s weak! You’re not weak! You’re a Koger! You’re better than that!” I have to be honest, it was hard feeling like I’d disappointed my family based on the choices I’d made, because we all know that feeling like you disappointed anyone at all is hard to handle sometimes.
But, let’s examine this frustrating concept of disappointment. Typically, disappointment happens when someone falls under expectations. You sit there and try to examine why they behaved the way that they did. Thoughts begin to pop into your head like, “I don’t understand why he/she/they would act that way!” However, a lot of times, people are not seeing people individually, but they are seeing them through what I like to think is a personalized version of the “reflection principle.”
Though there is a “reflection principle” in the complex mathematics theory universe, I’m discussing the principle with people (and if this principle pops off, remember where you heard it first, folks!). It’s when a person places their own strengths and weaknesses on another person. I feel as though voluntary friendships are based on this principle. When you meet someone, to create a better mental bond with them, you begin to find similarities with that person and you begin to see yourself in them.
However, when a person begins to waiver and becomes more like who they really are, doesn’t it seem like sometimes we might take it harder than that person? It’s because we’re suffering from the reflection principle. We’re looking at their situation and we’re trying to understand why they would behave the way that they did, because you would have never behaved that way; and that’s what you need to realize. They are not YOU.
Disappointment happens because we place ourselves in the situations and see how we would behave and don’t see how people couldn’t fathom doing the opposite (because if nothing else, you’re just a chasm of common sense at all times, right?). However, things are always different when you’re personally in that situation. Instead of chastising a person for their poor mistakes, try to stop seeing them for how you want them to be and see them for who they truly are: flawed individuals, the same as you are.
As for my family, my father never did understand how and why I let myself be in an emotionally abusive relationship, nor did he understand or fully agree with my decision to go to counseling, but I did it and I loved it (and honestly, I’ll be the first person to suggest it to people). My family might not fully understand why I do certain things, the same way I have those head tilt moments trying to figure out why they behave the way they do, but it’s all about seeing people for how they are. And when you do, true relationships can be built and grow from knowing the nooks and crannies of a person’s true being.
What are you reflecting on others? Let’s discuss @kkoger.
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