Optimism is a peculiar thing. It’s so great to have and helpful to keep. But what on Earth are we to do when we’re getting scared of it?
Time after time, we each face disappointment in our lives. The source can be anything from work projects falling through to plans with friends becoming no plans at all.
But then there are times where that optimism reaches far deeper than you realized. That’s where it turns into risk. Moving forward can sometimes be so painful and scary, you’d rather stay where you are and halt any chance of having to change anything.
Lately, I’ve found myself a little confused. I’m going to be 34 and I’m starting again. I’m absolutely comfortable in my own skin and know exactly what I love and what ways I take in the details of life. I’ve found my passion and my courage to pursue it thanks to the help of people I love dearly. I have so much acceptance from friends and family who welcome me into their lives without question. It’s scary, though. There are certain aspects of myself I’m having to make vulnerable in order to keep moving and evolving. Things like the prospect of dating again and the idea that I’m back to a blank canvas looking to fill it ultimately with more love and hopefully a new location, or the opportunity to test myself.
Well, it showed up.
And I got burned. Quickly. Unexpectedly. Really, though, it’s been a learning experience. I wasn’t expecting to finally let myself get excited about a possibly new thing or connection with a person. But I did. Just a little bit- Enough to have hope that I might be able to find some butterflies in there again. It was sad, exciting, new, unknown.. And then it was completely over. The situation changed literally overnight and I was left to decide if “heartbroken” was OK. Turns out, it is.
It’s perfectly OK.
But I wasn’t heartbroken over a person. In fact, I respect him a great deal in the very short time I’ve known him. I was disheartened over the fact that it took me so much to finally be alright with the idea of a little crush again and then finding out that I’ll have to rebuild that strength again so quickly. At least it was a quick burn with absolutely no hard feelings at all. I’m seeing it as just a little reality check- an opportunity to recalibrate and check my levels.
Regardless of what is happening in our worlds, disappointment is real and, as it turns out, weighs about 19 tons. We give the benefit of the doubt and even a little of ourselves to the unknown and it goes dark. We’re left wondering what happened as we’re gathering what’s left of what we gave.
This is what I’m learning, though- Each time we are disappointed by a person or a situation, we’re given an opportunity to push ourselves a little further. We know now that whatever happens next will be handled- expertly or terribly. It will be handled. We know it’s still going to work out alright regardless of if (or when) it all hits the fan. Disappointment can shed light on things you’re already experiencing to make you that much more grateful they’re happening.. OR that they’ll stop. Personally, this recent experience just leaves me grateful in general. I have no doubt that I am the luckiest still.
Sometimes it’s exhausting. It’s hard to think about it when what you’ve had for years is something you never want to replace. I won’t ever replace that. But I can move forward knowing how lucky I’ve been for every experience I’ve had.
In the toughest moments, look around you. Watch for those who are unchanging and completely undaunted by the prospect of having to help you out of the dark.
They’re the ones who are pushing you forward even when you’re not sure another chance is worthwhile. They will not disappoint you.