Navigating Disappointment

 

‘…Challenges produce perseverance, perseverance produces character and character produces hope which does not disappoint…’ – A very clever guy called Paul.

Okay guys today I am about to get very real. As we approach the end of this year 2016, my feelings can be summed up in one simple tweet: I cannot wait to bid my not so dear friend 2016 goodbye. As usual, I was on the tube when I got confirmation in my soul on what I needed to write about today. Shortly after, a good friend of mine posted a status on Facebook (which I will share later) and I had my usual AHA moment. Lets cast our minds back to the beginning of the year, I wrote about how to wield the vulnerability superpower. I wish I called on that power more throughout the year, because now I know that recognising it as a skill was the universes way of offering a helping hand for what would prove to be a year that really required it. Vulnerability was the tool we all needed in our tool kit this year. I asked his permission on if I could share the below and he said yes so Jake, thank you very much for your raw words:

“A little over a week ago, I spoke to some friends over dinner about my concerns about my mental health. Despite the occasional high points of joy, those closest to me will attest to the fact that 2016 has been an emotionally taxing year on many levels and it certainly affected me mentally. (Side note: Please remind me never to laugh at Kylie Jenner again when she makes seemingly facile statements in interviews because she was right about 2016; it was indeed the year of ‘realising stuff’.) Between my inbox being a gallery of rejection letters, my lack of self-actualisation making me feel less than every time I’m asked, “What do you do?” and global politics going in unexpected directions causing me to feel increasingly insecure about the prospect of realising a career in diplomacy, this year has been nothing short of hectic. 
So to everyone out there going through something and navigating this wilderness season of life, this is just to let you know that you are not alone. Behind the expertly-edited Instagram photos, real life is happening on this side too.”

Beautiful words that just released a sense of peace and freedom over me, and made me feel like I was less alone! Evidence that what the world needs right now is not a set of well practised and perfectly articulated speeches, but a raw and honest human connection that by nature empowers and encourages.

This year has been a really tough one. . One big bonding factor I have had with many people is just how much disappointment we have all had to experience, both personally and collectively. So with my usual practical slant, I think we need to unpack ways to deal with such disappointment in a way that enhances as opposed to depletes our mental state. In usual fashion we will do this in 3 key tips! Hope they help you, or that they show you that what you have been doing this year, has been building your endurance.

  • Just allow yourself to be disappointed

This is one I REALLY struggle with! I remember this time last year, when I wrote the post on putting my big girl panties on. I was deeply unhappy at work and was on the verge of leaving. I felt like I was not progressing in my work and nothing I was doing had much meaning. I remember when we had the promotion drinks and I attended and congratulated everyone but on the inside I was deeply and harrowingly disappointed and jealous. Not because it was my turn, but more because I couldn’t believe how little progress I felt that I had made and how bleak it all seemed. Did I let myself say this? No. So what happened was that state of being lasted longer than it should have. All of this is to say, guys, when you are disappointed in something; the first step to handling it is admitting it. The story ended in me owning up to a manager of mine and since then I have done two distinct roles this year and found fun and excitement again.

Another example… I remember when I got my 3rd year results at university. I was in Florence on an amazing holiday and I was desperately hoping for a First. I had worked so hard and really believed I would get it but I didn’t share it with anyone. So when I opened that email and it said congratulations on your 2:1 with my sister and best friend and they were so happy and excited for me, I swallowed my tears and put on a big smile and did not acknowledge that actually I really did feel that I deserved that 1st. I would later find out I missed it by 1%. Nevertheless because they were so happy I swallowed my own true feelings and rejoiced. In hindsight I can see that it was torture. No matter where you are in relation to anyone else, you must own your feelings. So a challenge to us all including myself, admit it when you are disappointment. Disappointment and humility are not mutually exclusive.

  • Seek out the Big-Picture Purpose and cling to it

There is something about zooming out of the small things and looking at the bigger picture – that gives me comfort in the face of disappointment. For me, and I think I have shared this before; my faith really does give me something to hold on to. I was at my regular service on Sunday and experienced this verse, which I had honestly never looked at before. It basically explained that our lives are a letter from God to our time specifically and intentionally.

How I read it was that God considered our current time (with all the technology, social media, political climate etc) and thought we were the best people to send to live now to handle it. This really spoke to me. What an incredibly opportunity? If I cast my mind back to some of the disappointments I have faced this year, none of them have changed this fundamental fact that I was born for such a time as this. I have still been able to use my gifts and talents to make a difference in my environment. Like Nina Simone will say ‘I’ve got life’ and no disappointment can take that away. Even if this is the first time you have encountered such a truth, I promise you if you let it sit with you, you will grow into that revelation that you are totally meant to be HERE. Right now, today.

Keeping this ‘big-picture’ truth in mind makes me feel peaceful and encourages me to keep going. God picked me to do this thing called life right now for a reason and I have time ahead of me to evolve into the fullness of that!

  • Let your challenges complete the character transformation they bring

I’ve spent the past year participating in a friends faith journey. He is honestly one of the most incredibly perseverant people I have ever encountered. I know he will achieve his dreams in the fullness of time, but what I have learnt is the appropriate posture of adopt in the meantime. He has been diligent, kind and still able to support and encourage others around him. The sheer patience he displays is incredible and I think it has afforded him an inner strength that is rare. Disappointment should not disarm you, it should propel you.

There are many factors that may mean you don’t get what you want when you want it but one thing that I have learnt is that by allowing the disappointment weigh in on your perception of yourself, you give it the power to take you out. Your achievements do not render you worthy, You do. A quote I love, if your character cannot sustain you, your dream will destroy you.

So maybe you got that seventh job rejection on your inbox like Jake above ? or that illness is still causing you pain? or that relationship ended and your heart is broken ?

Well my dear friends, I can promise you this: you are not alone. What has not completely ruined you will only ever build you. So my advice? OWN it, put PERSPECTIVE on it, and adopt a posture of resilience, which will ultimately position you for the thing you so badly crave.

24 days left this year. All those days packed with endless moments and opportunities. Make the most of them. I know on December 31st I will be very joyfully closing the chapter that has been 2016 and then again as I always do, with my arms outstretched to continue to wish impossible things for 2017 and beyond.

Share your #overcomingdissapointment stories with me on s@seunawo.com.

Love you so much

Seun

xx

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