Disappointment and misfortune are unavoidable parts of life. I don’t know about you but as a teacher, I sometimes feel I spend almost as much time teaching my students how to overcome adversity as I do on literacy or math. Part of that teaching involves being a role model. If I’m teaching it, I should know by now how to “take one on the chin”, right? Yet sometimes I stumble…and I forget how to bounce back. So it got me to thinking…what do my colleagues, friends, and family tell me during these tough times?
Based on their advice, I created…
Last summer, I gave up my current teaching position to finish my Master’s program. I graduated in November…it’s now January and I still have no job. To add to it, my school district would not hire me as a substitute teacher (I still don’t have a clear answer for that). So I have to go to a neighboring district to substitute. This district happens to be in another state that uses Common Core standards and not the ones I am familiar with. They pay less. I don’t know anyone and am not familiar with the kids. Major disappointment. And so far from what I thought would happen when I graduated.
What do we do when life knocks us around? How do we recover when our nicely written goals and plans go down the drain and we’re left feeling like we’ve been sucker-punched by life? Try these 5 helpful steps the next time you have to cope with disappointment.
Wallow in the disappointment…for a while
Allow yourself a short window of time to feel sorry for yourself. Vent to a really good friend. Indulge in a large double chocolate-caramel macchiato with whip. Buy a lunch that’s fried and filled with cheese. I like to go to Kohl’s and buy a piece of costume jewelry. Just make sure you don’t indulge in something way out of your budget.
Don’t get stuck in victim mode
So you’ve indulged in a bout of self-pity…thought of a dozen things you could have done better…shouted at the ceiling at the injustice of it all. Now comes the hardest part…put away the regret and anger. Give yourself a break. There was no way of knowing that your decision wouldn’t work. None of us are fortunetellers. We take the information we have at the present moment to make the best possible decision for us. Remember, you made the best decision you could at the time and things didn’t work out. Don’t judge yourself so harshly.
Look for alternative goals
Ask yourself: What things can I do now that I couldn’t do before? Make a list. As a substitute, I don’t have to prepare lessons, grade papers, make phone calls to parents on my own time. My weekends are now my own. I have the opportunity to work harder on my TPT store. I could take a Google Educator course (they’re free). I could also go for an ELL endorsement to my license. Concentrate on the things you can do now while you wait for your next turn to come around.
Embrace the disappointment
I have always found the old adage about a door slammed in your face to be true…a window does open elsewhere. Maybe your life has taken an unexpected turn…for the better. Trust that this bad moment (and it is a moment, not a forever) will have a positive outcome. Maybe that promotion you thought you deserved might have meant working for an unreasonable boss. Maybe the larger, brighter classroom you didn’t get bakes in the hot afternoon sun. Or maybe the child you thought would finish law school will become a successful business entrepreneur instead (fingers crossed for my oldest child!).
And finally…have faith that everything will work out
We all face moments of doubt and uncertainty. Think about the other times in your life when you experienced major disappointment. Did your life fall completely apart? Is it still like that? I would guess it isn’t. Things have a way of working themselves out with time because circumstances change constantly. In medieval times, a favorite symbol was Fortune’s Wheel. You might be happy at the top but just as easily the wheel could turn and you might be at the bottom, disappointed. And then the wheel turns again in your favor. Nothing stays the same forever.
Disappointment is hard to deal with. I hope these tips help you during the trying times. With patience, open-mindedness and faith, you can recover from life’s punches.