A friend I care about very much hit me up recently. She had been promised an amazing opportunity, the kind of thing she was aching to do to further herself personally and professionally. And then at the last minute, the opportunity fell through. “I’m trying not to cry at my desk,” she admitted. I knew exactly how she felt. At my old job, there were many days where I had to shed tears in the bathroom, or in the parking lot, crouched down between two cars (before I had a car of my own to cry in). Yes. I’ve been there and I know how it feels, when a lost opportunity just crushes your spirit completely. I’ve learned a few things from experiences like these. Let me share four lessons I’ve learned the hard way, on dealing with disappointment.
Lesson number ONE — don’t let them see you cry. And by “them,” I mean the folks in your professional life. Coworkers, bosses, authority figures, the general public. I’m a very emotional Pisces and when I’m hurt or sad or angry, you can see it in my eyes. I can’t help it. Never have been able to hide my emotions well, but I’ve had to learn how to through the years. I worked in office environments for years before fleeing office life, traditional bosses and coworkers altogether. Having to hide your disappointment at losing an opportunity that could potentally take you away from your drudgery and closer to your dreams, is TOUGH. It will take all your acting skills. But it’s for the best. And don’t let people who have disappointed you know how much they’ve affected your emotions, if you hope to maintain a professional relationship with them. It’s super hard. But truly necessary.
Lesson number TWO – don’t share what might happen. Share what HAS happened. So many times I see folks tweet about a phone call they got, or an e mail promising an amazing possiblity. As much as you may want to shout it from the rooftops… trust me when I tell you, it’s probably best to keep your cards close to your chest until the thing’s actually HAPPENING. I learned this the hard way in 2007, when I did my first interview for a major magazine. I told my family and friends back home and word spread and everyone was excited for me….and then that feature never ran. Being asked about that wasn’t fun when I returned. That taught me to protect my possibilities.
I’ve had offers for incredible opportunities come my way throughout my career. Like, crazy stuff. If I told you about some of them, you might not even believe me. I’m talking trips around the world, television appearances, up close access to celebrities, hosting events in amazing locations – crazy crazy stuff that I’ve wanted to shout from the mountain tops as soon as I got the word. I generally don’t talk about this stuff because it isn’t my style, but also, I’ve learned through painful experience that these things don’t always come to fruition. In my experience, it’s best to share these things with no more than five people — and four of those are in my immediate family. And when the awesome thing has happened and I can post pictures and write about what’s happened, I shout it from the rooftops then and bask in the glory.
Lesson number THREE – What is for you, is for YOU. And your day will come. Know that. OK, so an opportunity fell through. You’re feeling devastated and disappointed. But if you’ve truly worked hard to achieve the thing you were going after or hoping to get, opportunity will come around again. But when it comes around it will be the right thing at the time under the right circumstances with the right people. And you’ll deserve it just as much then. And you might even appreciate the opportunity more, because you know how hard you worked for it, how much you wanted it, and how far you’re gonna knock it out the park because this time is the RIGHT time.
Lesson number FOUR — This is what life is all about, peaks and valleys, joy and sorrow, doing the best you can to achieve your goals and dreams. The most important lesson I’ve learned is to know your worth, and don’t let disappointment defeat you. Allow yourself to feel your feelings, never deny yourself that. But you have to stay positive, and don’t allow life to make you bitter and angry. Always ask yourself — what lessons can I learn from this experience?
Whenever I’m in doubt, I listen to Stevie Wonder and let this advice wash over me.
I know this isn’t the usual Afrobella post, but I’d love to hear what you think and maybe I’ll include more life advice from my experience kinda stuff. You tell me, bellas. And also, tell me — how do you deal with disappointment, and what lessons do you have to share from those experiences?