Grappling With Disappointment

Disappointment is a heavy burden.  I’ve struggled to manage its weight ever since I was very young.  Although as a child I could handle anger, frustration and virtually any emotion thrown at me, the idea of disappointing others, especially those who I respected and loved, felt like a dull achiness, a throbbing deep within my core.

As I’ve grown older, I find that disappointment continues to weigh heavy on my soul.  But now instead of worrying about falling short of others’ moral standards, it is my own disappointment in our systems and their leaders that cause the dull achiness within.

Perhaps the child in me continues to believe that if challenges and their corresponding remedies are made crystal clear with no ambiguity or uncertainty; if solutions to our most pressing community issues can be achieved with little risk or additional costs; if we can meet institutional goals AND have a societal impact- then of course our leaders will choose to do what is right.

But the lengths that people and organizations will go to in order to avoid a true and absolute commitment, seem to be far greater than I could have ever imagined.  And as a person who literally cannot stop herself from dreaming up solutions, models, and designs for win-wins, I have begun to view my own sense of disappointment as a trusty sensor, an indicator for change.

As I look deeper into the systems that surround, evaluate, and support our most critical needs and rights, my sense of disappointment continues to grow.  But interestingly, I am finding that the feeling of dull achiness in my core that has long accompanied my sense of disappointment is steadily transforming into feelings of anger and sadness- emotions that are new but strangely emboldening.

For I have come to understand that the root of disappointment is an absolute belief in and commitment to ideals, principles and possibilities that are both sacred and noble; a love for humanity and all that is good.  Of course we should feel sad and angry when our leaders – and ourselves- choose to shrink from our responsibilities and choose to stand for something less noble or worthy.

I guess it is only by embracing the notion of disappointment and all that it encompasses that we can become true leaders rather than simply protectors of the status quo.

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