Nerds (like literally every other human on the planet) experience quite a bit of disappointment in our lives. Personally, mine have been stacking toward the ceiling lately, and at first, I wasn’t dealing with them so well. In the last month or so, though, I’ve learned quite a few lessons about handling disappointment in a more adult and intelligent way.
First and foremost: you have the right to be upset. We often try to push away our negative emotions, reasoning them away with “positive thinking.” We try to minimize our experiences, comparing them to others.
This is not a good way to deal with your issues — disappointment or otherwise. It forces you not to respect your own feelings, and it leads to some dangerous interpersonal issues. If you box yourself into a mindset where negative emotions shouldn’t be felt, you may end up being that asshole who tells his friend “at least you’re not in XYZ situation” when she tells you she’s fighting depression. Don’t be that guy, to others or to yourself.
That being said, know that in most cases, you are not entitled to any particular outcome. The girl you went out with doesn’t owe you a kiss just because you were nice and drove her home. Your professor is not required to give you an A just because you stayed up all night writing that paper. The author of your favorite book isn’t legally bound to deliver you a fairytale ending.
If you have ways to change the situation, do. The projects you’re working on at your first big-girl job out of college aren’t what you’d hoped they’d be. Ask your boss if there’s a way you could be doing more to shift your position in your preferred direction. You broke down and went to Wendy’s after weeks straight of going to the gym and eating well. Start over. Work out today.
(And cut yourself some slack… nobody’s perfect, and Wendy’s is delicious.)
Acknowledge that sometimes, there’s really nothing you can do… and move on. Your apartment flooded and it’s taking longer than you’d ever imagined for the repairs to be made. The concert you got tickets for five months ago just got cancelled. That guy you went out with — and really liked — never called you back. After allowing yourself to feel that initial disappointment, let it go. Holding on to things that can’t change will only end up hurting you more in the long run.
Disappointments suck. Learn to handle them positively, and they’ll become easier to handle later on.
Jessica Ryan is a community manager and CU grad. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: twitter.com/JessicaLRyan.