On Disappointment

“Today, I want to write about disappointment,” I said.
“Oh. I was hoping you’d write about something else,” he replied.

On this path there will be disappointment. Expectations set and unmet.

Something inspiring will set you on fire or ooze into your bones. Either way, you will be compelled forward. You will be certain that it is the way – perhaps the only way – for you to experience happiness and fulfillment.

“I want to make films.”

“I want to be an actress.”

“I want to be a designer.”

“I want to be a writer.”

“I want to light the world on fire with my soul’s work. And I want to get paid for it…. But I would settle for fame.”

For years – maybe decades – you have been toiling in the black & white flatness of perceived reality. Then one day, you observe a technicolor world of success and achievement through the keyhole and you know, with the conviction of a thousand men, that this is it. That is where you are meant to be.

And so you try to push yourself through the keyhole, forcing yourself through a small window into what you believe to be Your Thing. Your destination. Proof that you’ve finally made it.

You contort, then unfurl. You invest, then divest. You lament, then light up.

You try, then you fail.

“I am a failure.”

That’s the story you tell yourself.

You are disappointed, sure. You were certain this was your big break. The key that would unlock the saturated landscape of Bright Shining Achievement. The moment when you can finally say…

It sold out!
I made a lot of money!
I inspired millions!
They can’t get enough of me!
I made it!

But the questions you are really looking to answer were…

Am I worth it?
Am I capable?
Do I belong?

The allure of Bright Shining Achievement is an illusion, built on a deeper desire for worth, capability, and belonging.

Here is what you are missing: No one person or thing has the key to unlock The Dream, to tell you that you are worthy, capable, and that you belong.

You are the key. Your willingness to show up. To be seen. To be judged. That is success in and of itself.

The only failure is the failure to break free of the shackling beliefs of what achievement looks like. What success with a lower-case-ess looks like.

Disappointment comes when you forget to acknowledge that…

You showed up.
You were brave.
You did your best.

The rest is just attachment to a cardboard reality you spied through a tiny hole; a reality held together with scarcity, bound by strands of longing. A reality where little men rush around, shouting that “This is it! This is the way of the world. The way of reality. The only way…”

When you look at life through the keyhole, there are things you can’t see. The artifice. The aggrandizement. The braggadocio. The scenery only looked brighter on the other side because you failed to recognize your own powerful illuminating brilliance right here, right now.

What you are missing is the reality that you paint the world.

With your failures and your fears.
With your desires and your yearnings.
With your bravery and brazenness.
With bumps and bruises and breathtaking beauty.

When the disappointment fades and time heals over the wounds of your pride, you will be left with the majesty of your realness. Your courage. Your aplomb.

The exquisite luminosity of you.