mental health

Dealing with disappointment

My series on Dolly Chugh’s The Person You Mean to Be will resume with my next post, but today I want to talk to you about something cool that happened yesterday.

Tuesday evening was rough. Last week I tried out for a writing gig in a space I’m really interested in—organizational psychology, loosely—and haven’t worked in yet. I don’t think I realized at the time how much it would matter to me to not get it.

I went to bed feeling crappy after I got the news and woke up with a pissiness hangover. It was even worse because I’d just come off an epic weekend where I shared a portion of my newest work-in-progress for the first time and got to meet up with some old friends. It always makes a work feel real when you read it into a room—now that other people know of its existence, it’s like you have to make it happen. Before that, it’s all just theoretical, to my mind.

Anyway. Being disappointed is one thing. Knowing I should feel okay about this disappointment because I’d had such a great weekend was quite another, somehow, so I sent this tweet out the Wednesday morning.

When you send a call for help like this out into the Twitterverse, I think there’s a part of you that wonders what kind of response you’ll get back.

The answers I received were heartening. There were ones that have to do with perspective, like this:

And I love this one from a former student of mine, with her reminder that if it matters enough, you’ll find a way to get at it anyway.

In it, she references the first response I got, from a professor I met on Twitter via the writing I’ve been doing about Dolly Chugh’s book. He teaches in the organizational behavior field, too. His answer was striking because his “smile file” is a step we undertook at Tahoma Literary Review to remind us of what keeps us moving forward, but I never took that extra half-step to apply it to my own work.

Later, he sent a photo of his smile file. It’s on his wall; he doesn’t even have to open it! He just turns to it, a pile of cards and notes tacked to a board, and bang! Instant boost.

And then there was some other immediately actionable advice:

And finally, some great advice around personal philosophy.

I think probably the thing I love about all of these is that they come from a place of shared experience: We have all these disappointments. Some of them may feel larger than others, and I suspect the severity of this one has to do with some embarrassment on my part for not performing up to snuff. But seeing that shared experience is what keeps me coming back to social, time and again.

The advice was great, but what really made me pull out of the funk was seeing how many of your coping mechanisms resonated with others.

And as you replied to each other’s comments and added advice of your own, I realized that maybe this was a form of smile file, too; this sensation of a shared space and a community, however ephemeral, built around one person’s temporary disappointment.

Thanks, everyone.

Writer, editor, general crazy-pants.