On Dealing With Disappointment

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.

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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?

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Comments

  1. Couldn’t be better said!

  2. onegreatsmile says:

    This is a fantastic thought piece, and some great advice. That said, I have such a hard time with #1! Part of staying hopeful for me is talking about all the fantastic what-ifs of an opportunity on the horizon. I guess the flip side is, it is an even bigger let down when it doesn’t happen–which just occurred recently. And because I had shared my excitement on my facebook wall, the whole world knew. While their words of encouragement (mirroring #2, #3, and #4!) poured in quickly, it didn’t really heal the wound any faster.

    Thank you for a great morning read.

    • I had to learn to keep my big news to myself after I shared with a few folks and my business was being spread around! In my line of work (and in life in general, I guess) there are people who aren’t happy for your possibilities and who cheer when your good news falls through. I protect myself from that by keeping a close council. Thank you for commenting!

      • onegreatsmile says:

        Actually, my friends are very supportive,and were as disappointed as I was. It just didn’t lessen the sting of the missed opportunity! Next time I’m keeping my mouth shut. I’d rather share a success than another let down. That way they can celebrate instead of console!!

  3. Shaimi Clemencia says:

    Hi long time reader, first time commenting!
    The things you said were right on point!
    I think its a good idea too include this type of posts more often!

  4. Thanks for this. I just had an opportunity fall through yesterday, and I’m trying to stay positive. :)

    • I had an opportunity that was promised to me not happen and go to someone else….last night! We’re in the same boat. And we’re ok, right? The next thing is right around the corner!

  5. I love “share what HAS happened”, great advice. I usually say “tell some keep some” & believe in holding my cards close.

  6. Well said, a friend told me this and I always remembered it, “What ever God has promised you, the river can not carry it away”.

  7. Darlene says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with each lesson. #1 – We’re in a culture that respects having a drink and laughing off a disappointment much more than having an emotional response. #2 – It’s interesting what happens when we share our joy about an opportunity with folks. Even those with the best intentions can color your dream with their own intentions. # 3 & 4 – God really has a way of turning disappointments into blessings if we can remain grateful and keep our focus.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Afrobella!

    • I love how you phrased #2 – it’s SO TRUE. It’s interesting to see how others react to your good and bad news. I’ve seen it all, LOL! Thank YOU for commenting and for being an amazing friend!

  8. felicia yvette says:

    I just love you for sharing things like this. Sure, it isn’t the usual Afrobella post; but it was necessary and it will help people. My favorite? “What is for you, is for YOU.” I wish more people would understand and be okay with that part. Saying it aloud helps me when I’m going through it.

  9. Great Post. As I always tell myself and my friends..”Everything in divine order.” Everything happens when and how it is supposes to happen. We may not always know the reason, but trusting the process of life makes it easier.

    • everything in its season! Absolutely, Yoli. When it’s meant to be, it will be. This is where faith (in higher power, in yourself, in general) comes in.

  10. This post is bawse. Thanks for sharing this advice based on your experience. Always great to see folks achieving success talk about some of the lessons learned. Keep it up!

  11. Im sitting here reading this trying not to cry. This post is exactly what I needed after having a very rough time with work for the past few weeks. I’m trying to focus and realize that something bigger and better is coming my way and continue to do my part to reachy goal. It gets hard, but I’m a bit more encouraged after reading this. It was truly meant for me to read this today. Thanks Bella!!!

    • Elle, it’s gonna get better! This is your time to stack your paper as high as you can, so you have a cushion to land on before you leave. Look for a position you deserve!

  12. Hi Ladies,

    This is such a great and much needed post. Please do more of the same. Thank you for sharing! I just did a similar short post on my blog this morning because I was feeling some kind of way. We can stay positive even though it may take extra effort. Sometimes I take a cry break where I go for a walk and let it all out(crying cleanse). Then, I return to work refreshed and ready to try again.

  13. Speaking to my Soul says:

    Thank you so much for this article. This is something that I needed to hear right now. I am feeling a little beat down for several missed opportunities but this article put it all in perspective.

  14. Hey Bella! Awesome post, and such a timely reminder for me. I’m in the job hunt of my life right now (if you remember my convo w/ you at BWB about the strife at my current job), and my hopes are so easily played with when different leads or interviews come up. I’m trying to maintain patience and remember your point of “What is for you is for YOU.” What gets me through is knowing that my time is coming, and I will celebrate like a MUG when it does!

    Thanks again for this – while it’s about managing disappointment, I’m actually really motivated :)

  15. Actually, this is one of my favorite posts. I like that you share your own personal experiences because it helps us all. As for me, I share your beliefs around Lesson #3 and #4. When I’m disappointed and it really hits me hard, I pray and meditate on the issue—and as reflect back on things that didn’t come to fruition—I notice that it was for my own good because something better came along that otherwise I would not be able to take if the other opportunity came through. All works out in the end. Love yourself and believe in yourself because that is what keeps you strong.

  16. AfroBella, This is a great post!

    Thanks for tweeting Cassandra’s awesome quote/comment LOVE it!

    I’m looking forward to reading more from you along these lines. Keep writing from the heart!

    As far as dealing w/ disappointment, I offer 2 things
    1. Yes don’t let them see you cry AND don’t ever deny how you really feel or shame yourself for feeling exactly how you feel. Find a safe space to deal -even if it’s between two cars in the parking lot (been there myself a time or two) Most strong emotions last about 7 minutes before they begin to pass – Allow the disappointment to move through you like the wind

    2. Walking in your purpose is a direction NOT a destination. We get caught up guessing what the ending will be. We get caught up trying to control what the outcome looks like. I allow myself to want what I want AND I remember that there is a Higher Greater Force of Love at work on my behalf. I tell myself “If not this, then something even better.” If you ask yourself “What would this have brought me & why is it so important to me” then “How can I have it without this situation” You’ll be surprised what your teary eyes can begin to focus on when you take that approach!

    “When you fall, try to fall on your back because if you can look up you can get up!” – Les Brown

  17. Very nice and very needed.

    You’re right letting yourself feel the emotions for a moment is absolutely on point, but here’s how I handle disappointment – LET IT GO!

    That thing (disappointment) whatever it is may get me down for a moment, an hour, but no one – NO ONE – Nothing gets my entire day.

    Let it go and thank God. Remember he opens and closes doors.

    Love ya for this one!

  18. Girl, I needed to hear this today. Thanks :)

  19. Jenna Marie Christian says:

    Thank you! Very much needed! :)

  20. Great post–wonderful advice. In particular your advice about “your time will come” which really speaks to faith. Many of us have moved from that element of life but faith is a belief in an intangible–something that you cannot see (and that belief is most often what we need to not only propel us through the professional valleys and peaks but the personal ones as well.)

  21. ON POINT! I love the way you broke it down! In my former life as a network engineer, I would pray before I would leave my car because I had bosses and co-worker who were not the nicest people……when I started my company I only told a few people until it everything was in pace and ready to launch! My grandma used to say “don’t tell everybody ya business, cause folk will pray against you” “everybody don’t want to see you blessed” these words has stuck with me! Thank you for this article! I will share it with my fans…because this applies in ALL aspects of our lives!

  22. Excellent post. Sometimes we know these things, but we need a reminder. I really try to focus on the good that comes from experiences…even the bad ones. With each disappointment you learn something. I’ve learned a lot about myself from my disappointments.

  23. Another great post. I find the more I talk about things before it happens, the less likely that thing will happen, so I keep my mouth shut.

  24. Beautifully written. AND TIMELY!! Thank you for sharing this!!

  25. Thank you for this. The advice to keep things to myself was needed.

    For all that you do,to help us be beautiful from the inside out,I thank you. God bless you.

  26. Preach! I was recently disappointed by a business opportunity with someone I thought was a stand up business person. In my mind it was going to be a great collaboration. It fell through and I was very upset with the person I was working with. I am quickly learning that some closed doors are a blessing. You might not know why some opportunities don’t happen, but you have to trust that something much better is on the way!

    • ohhh that happened to me recently too and it sucks when you think someone’s on the up and up and they’re a fraud and a charlatan. I’m so sorry. And you are SURE right — it often works out better for me when some of these things don’t work out!

  27. Beautiful piece. I so agree that we have to not let others see our disappointment. And take pride in what does come to fruition. Not everything is right for everyone. When it’s right specifically for you, it will be better than your wildest dreams.

  28. When I tell you that God knows what He is doing!!! Patrice, this is so incredibly on time for me on a personal level. I thank God for using you in this moment to write this post. Thank you for sharing!

  29. You hit the nail dead on. It is so hard not to tell someone about the good fortune you EXPECT to receive no matter what it is, (promotion, gift, job, baby etc.), but its even harder to go back and tell them that there’s been a change of plans.Don’t talk about it, be about it.Share what you have, not what you want, because some people don’t want to see you HAVE anything and they feed off your wants and misses/failures.

  30. I really needed that. I had been bitter towards my job for over a year because of an opportunity that was given to someone else instead of me. I knew I deserved it and worked hard to prove it. But I learned that the position was never for me. God has greater, bigger plans for me. Thank you for posting this.

  31. Afrobella,

    It’s as if your friend was me. I could hug you and your friend. There’s so much hurt and disappointment that I’ve gone through in this year alone with my professional life and it’s glimpses like this post that makes me crack a smile. Right now, I can’t even talk to God right but I digress; I don’t want to rattle on but know that this post went further then you could imagine.

  32. Thank you for the article. Tell her to hang in there and our prayers are with her. I know about disappointment, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and new things do come about after a tough time.

  33. Awesome post! Really good points Bella! Thanks.

  34. Simplydafdaf says:

    This is a great post! Definitely do more! Yeah, I usually wait until something has actually happened before sharing it. :)

  35. “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.”

    After I actually admitted to myself and close friends how I felt after being hurt to the core, I’ve felt better. It’s not easy admitting when you’re hurt and truly hate someone (though temporarily), but it was how I felt. In addition to be honest with others, you definitely have to be honest with yourself.

    Great post, bella! I had to come out of email lurkdom and comment.

  36. Hiii! I’m a 1st time reader & 1st time poster.

    Thank you for this. I am currently disappointed with the majority of my life but reading this confirms my need to be optimistic. People always say if you’ve been blessed be a blessing so you should definitely keep post like this coming.

  37. I really loved this post and was giddy when it showed up in my google reader. I follow your blog and even though its a departure from you’re usual, it was on time for me. Yesterday, I experienced a couple of rejections and even though I felt some kinda way about it, experience has taught me that I’m exactly where I am supposed to be—physically, emotionally, mentally, etc…Understanding that and enjoying the journey and process of life versus the destination and goal has given me an enormous amount of peace. My perspective is definitely different. Thanks for sharing your lessons–I co-sign on all of them and would add that recognizing the divyne in yourself is paramount when dealing with disappointment. Keep sharing and spreading joy!

  38. happily nappy says:

    Bella, this post is beyond awesome. Let me first say I follow you on twitter but this a first time post from me. I’ve read a few of your posts but never comment. I am also a Pisces and have always wore my heart on my sleeve. Very sensitive & emotional at times; More in my personal life than professional though. Although I remain positive and think happy thoughts i still sometimes let negativity in from day to day. This comes from dwelling and my guilty conscience as well. Thanks for encouraging others to remain calm & positive in all aspects of life no matter the struggles that have come their way! <3

  39. Valerie R. says:

    Thank you so much for writing this post. It’s a timely and much needed reminder. Blessings to you.

  40. Word cant describe how bad I needed to read this. Disappointment has me down in the dumps and this was the encouragement that I needed. Thank you.

  41. What wisdom. I am so with you on all of these. (The only time I had a slightly different experience was when I got a lateral transfer to a new job because I wasn’t working in my old job, and I started crying, and I could tell that the guy was so freaked out it almost felt like revenge. But I knew I was leaving the company so it wasn’t as harmful as it can be in some situations.)

    Also remember the “allergy” trick. When you get bad news that makes you want to cry, go into the bathroom, splash on some water, and come out and say, loudly and to anyone who can hear, “Oh my God I’m having a horrible allergy attack. Sometimes I have these weird reactions to cleaning chemicals. (And that does actually happen to me — spontaneous allergy attacks from household and office cleaners, but who’s going to question you on that?) After you bemoan your fate you take the rest of the day off. Just a thought.

    It’s also really important not to let disappointment turn into rage and resentment, which was very much your last point.

    Bravo!

  42. THANK YOU for sharing.. this post meant a lot and I hope you continue to do more..

    Lesson 1.. my mom taught me this and the young hot head I once was.. I understand it now.. and practice it wisely.

    It depends on the level of disappointment for me but for the most part, I cry, I pray and dust myself off and start over.

  43. I absolutely would LOVE LOVE more posts like this. Though it was eons ago that I learned these lessons, reading your post — the old memories returned so vividly I could almost feel the sting of the very first time. I can even tell you the date June 6, 2005. smh

    I’ve never been a crier because thugs don’t cry. lol However, lesson 2&3 resonated so much with me. 2 is probably the MOST vital lesson for newbies to learn. It could be career saving. 3 is all about FAITH, learning this quickly will not only save you a lot of heartache but it will enable you to be genuinely happy and celebrate the success of others (even your rivals). Thus, negating envy/strife/jealousy and freeing up your universe for good and positive things to eventually flow your way.

  44. This is beautiful, Bella. Thank you for writing this. Hits me to my CORE.

  45. Wonderful post based upon knowledge you’ve acquired from your own life experiences. You have the ability to give advice and words of encouragement without them coming across as preachy or lofty. We’ve all experienced disappointment and these 4 lessons are sound advice that anyone can apply to their lives to get them through those rough patches (like when you’re doubting yourself RIGHT after a let down.) You’re just awesome. xoxo

  46. This post is amazing. It hit home for me for a few occasions I remember. I definitely have to work on my acting skills to remain professional – I’ve let my tears fly. I feel my emotions hard, but it is so important not to let people/situations get the better of you. This post was wisdom.

  47. Sometimes it is so hard not to shout it from the rooftops and get t-shirts made when a great opportunity comes up. I am glad you shared this. Since we only see the great things that happen for others, we think that we are the only ones that have to deal with near misses and other disappointments. Good to know I’m not the only one…

  48. warrior11209 says:

    Great points.Not the usual post but very wise and insightful as always. It has taken me a long time to realize that I should only share what has actually happened and not a promise that has not actually come to fruition. What I have found is after such disappointments that I will ultimately get whatever it is that was truly what I needed and not what I had my heart set on. All part of us living and as long as we are alive , regardless of age, disappointments of all types will follow us.

  49. Great Post Bella! Real Talk!!

  50. Andrea Harvey says:

    Great post Bella! One thing you touched on more in the comments than the post is that you survived.
    Sometimes when I struggle with something I remember the things I have overcome and I say (out loud even) and I’m STILL here. Which says two things: 1. You’ll make it through this and 2. There is more purpose in your life and “other” things out there for you.

    This is wonderful.

  51. I needed to hear this at just this moment in time. I’ve been seeking employment and having opportunities that I thought were a sure thing crumble in my face. This post has given me the word I needed.

  52. OMG i needed to hear this today… the last couple of weeks have been a struggle… thank you

  53. Thank you for this post!!! I was just talking about this earlier this week as I have had in the last three months given oppourtunities that I only told a few about as I needed references from those people. I was talking to a friend this afternoon about the need for immediate change. My friend laughed and told me it won’t be long and that the Lord knows when to let new oppourtunities enter into your life, be patient and it will happen as it only happens on God’s time. Now, I’m not overly religious but truly believe that all things happen on God’s time and nothing else. And I truly believe that you cannot share opportunities with others because all don’t mean you well. It’s not that you are keeping secrets or don’t want to share info but the questions asked by those who are in the know aren’t always the questions or conversation that you want to discuss after disappointment. This post couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Thank you for your insightful words!!!

  54. On point and right on time. Thank you for writing this.

  55. I can certainly relate to lessons 1 and 2. While it is true that all things happen for you in their own time, it’s hard to maintain confidence when one is constantly faced with disappointment. Theory is sometimes hard to put into practice.

  56. You are talking directly to me! As a new college graduate, applying for positions and networking can lead some terrible disappointments. I’m going to take your advice to heart!

  57. I have to share this with my daughter who has just had a major disappointment. What made it even worse was that the people she trusted set her up so that she had no alternative but to resign. On a positive note, she refused to compromise her integrity so she has come to realize after much soul searching, that it’s fat better to walk away knowing that your values and ethics are intact rather than the alternative.

    Thank you for this and thank you Lisa for pointing me in this direction. No such thing as a coincidence.

  58. Thanks Bella.

  59. Thank you, I will share this with my girls and take inventory on my own goals and remember that we must keep pushing forward.

  60. Such wisdom from such a young person but you are correct for those 4 key pieces of advice.

    Life is not a certainty in that we can only hope, pray and have faith that good things will happen to and for us. We need to keep a level of positive energy and when something does not go our way, we need to shrug it off and move on – don’t go back and pick over it – as the bruises of life won’t heal if constantly picked.

    As Afrobella said she has a core group of 4 family members that she talks to – for the rest of you, it may be good friends and not family – but we all need to have at least one close person to talk with and be our sounding board, our support group, our cheering squad.

    Thanks Afrobella for this post!

  61. Amen…times 4. I always enjoys your blogs and this one was right on time.

  62. CO-SIGN on #2! When I was in high school, a mentor in an afterschool program that I was in had just come back from L.A., saying (okay, bragging) he had co-wrote a Snoop Dogg song for his upcoming CD. I’m not sure whether the song didn’t make it at all or that the hook that he wrote was dropped and the song was all rap, but either way, his name wasn’t in the liner notes. The problem was, he was to embarrassed to admit that happened, and a bunch of angry rap-hating friends of his who bought Snoop’s CD to support him were pissssssssed. Lesson learned.

  63. Great Post!!! These are thing I’ve know but need to put into practice again. Thanks!!!

  64. This is very good advice. I certainly could have used this a few years ago when I made the grave mistake of tearing up in front of my boss. This didn’t affect my job adversely, thank goodness, but now I feel like I’ve exposed a weakness. Oh well, I’ve lived and learned since then and I go to my car or to the bathroom when I feel the waterfalls coming. Thanks for sharing.

  65. MiaSoleil says:

    Thank you for this valuable and encouraging advice! It’s always good to remember that we’re not alone.

  66. So well spoken Afrobella. The key take away for me is, “protect your possibilities.” It’s the perfect phrase for yet another person who’s gone through the same exact thing as others. I agree…Let it happen, then maybe I will inform someone:).

  67. This was a much needed post. Thanks for sharing. I used to be just like that, always ready to share tentative news with everybody until I realized 1) things fall apart and 2)not everyone wants to see you succeed.

  68. Thank you.

  69. Wisdom at any age is very refreshing! Thanks for sharing & paying it forward. My 17 year old granddaughter gave me this to place on my desk during such disappointing times-”Good things fall apart so better things can fall into place.”

    Peace & blessings,
    Clara.

  70. I went to many interviews after I finished my degree and never landed any of the jobs. Something always happened. What is for you, Is for you. I eventually started my business and its been progressing faster than I expected. So now when an “opportunity” doesn’t come my way, I know that it was not for me and that I have to wait on the real opportunity.

  71. I think this an amazing post by you, it was honest, and from the looks of your comment stream: RIGHT ON TIME. ;-) I, too, am very emotional. I cry when I’m happy, sad, angry, frustrated… all of the above! & when I have let ‘em see it, they have used it against me! That was a lesson learned.

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  3. [...] as we all know, things can change on a dime.  In fact, Afrobella summed it all up quite nicely in Lesson Number TWO on a recent post she wrote about disappointment.  Needless to say, we’ve all been there.  And [...]

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