Lately, it has felt like I only have one emotion – disappointment. This might come as a surprise, especially for those that see me as bright, bubbly and always happy-go-lucky. The truth is that I am all of those things, but there are times (just like the rest of us living the human experience) where I deeply feel the not-so-pretty emotions like anger, regret, guilt, anxiety and of course the most uncomfortable of them all DISAPPOINTMENT. Below I share my musings on how I’ve been dealing with disappointment and working to move to the other side of it – being present.
How many of us have grandiose plans for our lives? And maybe they aren’t quite plans yet, but the dreams and longings of a life you have imagined for yourself? I’ll be the first to raise my hand. Ever since I was a child, I’ve joyfully been on the path of over-achieving and dreaming big. My big plans began as an 8 year old dancer & ice skater that held the dual dreams of competing in Olympic figure skating and becoming a professional dancer. When I realized those dreams were a little too lofty, I moved on to a new dream – being a motivational speaker (largely inspired by my four year stint competing in rotary speaking competitions and being an active member of my high school’s speech & debate team). Soon the independence of college would spur on yet another big dream of mine – becoming an actor in Broadway’s most popular musicals.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college, that I began to struggle navigating my dreams. All throughout my life I had been told I could be anything I wanted to be and that not only was I special and unique but that I was destined for something BIG. While all of the motivation and confidence in me from family & friends was wonderful and appreciated, it didn’t prepare me for the hard dose of reality I experienced when I left the bubble of college. I was soon smacked in the face with adulting 101. The days and years began to whiz by as I juggled navigating office politics, learning what it meant to be a leader, while also budgeting and balancing my checkbook now that I was responsible for all of my finances. Now don’t get me wrong, mixed in with all of the hard adulting has been tons of fun: creating my amazing tribe of friends, meeting my soul mate, exploring all of the awesome events & culture that Cleveland has to offer, and honing in on my strengths both in & out of the office. What there wasn’t a lot of time for was really sitting down to focus, identify and make a plan for my dreams.
It wasn’t until January of this year that things really caught up to me. I woke up one day with no pep in my step and with a heavy heart. What happened to my dreams? I thought I was destined for something BIG & here I am living a pretty ordinary life. Wasn’t I supposed to have gone on some milestone adventures by now, like traveling the world?
Needless to say, I started feeling crummy & super disappointed in myself. How was I on autopilot for so long? What was I thinking? This one bad day started turning into a string of bad days and those string of bad days turned into a bad month. After having my third adult temper tantrum in one week, I knew something had to change, being in this funk wasn’t getting me closer to any of my dreams and it was making my day-to-day life pretty dreary. To fix the situation, I did what any personal & professional development junkie does – I practiced self-awareness, journaling and moments of meditation. I began listening to multiple podcasts from my favorite life coaches & visionaries. I religiously read insightful blogs and articles. Below are my favorite take-aways I’ve discovered:
BE PRESENT – I found that one of the biggest culprits of my disappointment largely centered around my obsession with the future. Instead of reveling in the beauty of NOW, I had been singularly focused on the future. No I couldn’t plant flowers around my condo, why bother when this wasn’t my permanent home? This thinking left me drained and unable to be in the moment. Now you’ll find me training my thoughts to stay centered on RIGHT NOW. The future is filled with uncertainty but the present is where we really see & feel the magic of life.
DREAM WITH NO ATTACHMENT – The second culprit of my disappointment was the attachment I was placing on outcomes. When we are attached to a particular outcome and the actual outcome turns out to be wildly different from what we had planned, we are of course flooded with disappointment. I’m learning that yes, we need to dream and visualize what we want in our lives, but we can’t be too attached to the form those dreams will take. We need to be open & flexible in how our dreams show up in our lives.
ENJOY THE PROCESS – As a society we put a huge emphasis on the deliverables, the output and the external outcomes. We love having something tactical to show for our work. While all of those things are vitally important, our emphasis should not only be placed on the final result but instead on the process of getting that result. I found myself getting caught in the loop that I was only happy when I completed or finished something. Now, I choose to center my energy on enjoying the process of creating something rather than the finished product. Instead of rushing through my blog posts just to get them done, I now take my time to savor the process of forming the words that create the sentences of my thoughts.
The Lie of BIG – I’m not the only one that has been seduced by the lie of BIG. I’ve heard friends, acquaintances and family all talk about wanting to have BIG accomplishments or their longing for a BIG life or making a BIG impact. What I’m discovering, however, is that we don’t have to do something big or be something big to make a positive impact or contribution. Changing one perspective and making one person smile is just as significant as inspiring a global movement.
Going down the path to pinpoint the center of my disappointment opened up a multitude of AHA moments and learnings. These gems of wisdom have become my treasure chest. They are the shiny things I pull out when I find myself dipping into disappointment or dwelling on an attachment. While each of them have been monumental in my development, my biggest learning is this:
We are unique, we are special and we are all destined to live beautiful & inspiring lives. We CAN do anything that we set our minds too, we just have to be flexible with ourselves . We will change, our dreams will change and sometimes we will find that we’ve let ourselves ride on autopilot for a little too long. The great news is that we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it. If we react with compassion, gratitude and love, all while remaining in the present moment, we will be able to see all the beauty in our lives.
With so much love & gratitude,