Recently I interviewed for a position I really wanted. It’s one of those turning point positions, where I can’t help but daydream about how my life might change should I get it. So naturally (for me), anxiety regarding the outcome crept up slowly from the tips of my toes before swallowing me whole. I hate this feeling. It encourages mania where there should be calm – this fear of disappointment.
In academia rejection is common, and disappointment its ever faithful companion. Yet, I can’t seem to stop the burning in my chest that signals disappointment’s arrival. This time I was more aware of the potential for letdown. I purposefully downplayed the position’s potential importance in my head, trying to trick my subconscious into situational apathy, as if that would work. I busied myself with other matters to overcrowd my line of thinking such that I’d basically forget a decision was coming. That didn’t work either.
So instead, I leaned into the discomfort. Unable to Jedi mind trick myself into avoiding disappointment, I succumbed to the reality of its inevitability. This, like so much of my anxiety, is a result of subtle mix of choice and chemistry. I am ambitious. I choose to be ambitious, driven, and organized even though I have an emotional temperament not well-suited to those characteristics. And sometimes disappointment comes with that approach.
Now I just have to figure out what to do with this Zen-like acceptance. Who am I, if not an over-thinker of potential life-changing opportunities? What about you? How do you handle disappointment? Have you found successful ways to deal? Who else has a complicated relationship with this particular emotion?