When you were in elementary school—I think 3rd grade but I’m not entirely sure—your class read The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo. I had never heard of the book and since you suggested that I would enjoy it, I promptly read it. You were right. I enjoyed it very much. So much so that a year or so later I read it to Pi who also thought it was a great story (read by an outstanding narrator).
One of the things about the story that stuck with me was how Despereaux’s mother, Antoinette a French mouse, had a love affair with the word disappointment. So much in her world, including her odd son Despereaux, was a disappointment. “Quell disappointment!” she would cry.
Certainly there are disappointments in life. Finding out that your favorite restaurant is out of the particular dish you went for. Not doing as well on an exam as you’d hoped to. Not getting into a class because it conflicts with the only section of a requirement. Hoping for a beautiful day for football game and getting…something else. Learning that a favorite TV show has been canceled. Not being offered a job you’d had your heart set on. Some disappointments are small. Some seem so big they threaten to overwhelm the entire universe.
The most difficult disappointments are when you disappoint yourself because then you are the disappointer and the disappointee.
It seems to me that the important question is not whether you will encounter disappointments in your life, but how you will deal with those disappointments. NOTE: You can’t plan for disappointments in the middle of being disappointed. You have to plan for how you will handle them in a moment of calm, content, clarity.
For some people, holding the puppy and letting the furball lick away tears is important. For others, yelling at parents seems to help. Going to the gym, reading a book, talking with a good friend, coach, or sibling can all be good options.
Alcohol, drugs, wanton destruction, meaningless sex, violence, and too many chocolate chip cookies are not good options. Yelling at your parents isn’t really a great choice either.
The VAST majority of disappointments in our lives are short-lived. You may not be able to change the situation–you probably can’t get a TV show uncanceled or take back the stinging comment you made to your roommate last night–but you can be in control of how you deal with it. You can decided to be unhappy for a while and then move on. You can decide to let someone help you through and over the the disappointment. You can decide to handle things differently the next time. And you can decide to help someone else though a difficult time (you’re a good kid, sweetie).
Disappointments are a part of life. Hopefully, you won’t experience more than your fair share of them and hopefully they will be of the gentler TV-show-has-been-canceled type. Most importantly, please remember you are not alone. We love you.
Have some soup.
Hope you have a disappointment-free day.