I thought I'd continue my Embracing a Healthier Lifestyle series with a post on how I try to deal with disappointment. So far in the series we've had:
Part One: Catching the Running Bug
Part Two: Thinking Big, Dreaming Big
Part Three: Stop Comparing Yourself
As many of you know, I've dedicated the a significant portion of the last 7 months of my life to the application process for a GTP (Graduate Teaching Programme) but sadly, I've now found out I haven't got on.
Obviously, this is massively disappointing - I've put in lots of effort, I have lots of experience, I've had lots of people telling me how certain they were I'd do it but, for some reason or another, I haven't. But you know what? That's ok - no seriously. I feel calm and peaceful about the whole thing and I thought I'd share a few of my ideas and techniques that have helped me feel that way.
First though, another in my "pictures of Emily to make you laugh" series:
Why yes, yes I am in fancy dress as Siousxie Sioux whilst wearing a Red Nose.... that's how I roll for fancy dress days at the Primary School I work at. The kids were a wonderful mix of terrified and fascinated.
1. It's ok to be hurt and upset
It really, really is. If you're dealing with disappointment take some time to be hurt and upset about it. Have a cry, a shout, whatever you need. But here's the biggy...
2. Don't wallow and don't get bitter
Wise words passed on to me by my friend Ben (aka Ben from Teach Ben How to Cook) and words I really needed to hear. We all have difficult moments in life, some more than others, and whilst it's very important to have a bit of time for grieving, I'd say this was one of the most helpful pieces of advice I was given. I know this is sometimes easier said than done, but even just trying to keep that thought at the forefront of your mind can help.
3. Protect yourself
Ok, now this is maybe a little more controversial and to some people might sound like pure pessimism but let me explain. Throughout this process, I've had people tell me that they think I'll get one - we've had it announced by people at important meetings that we're going to Hull for certain in September. I've had people left right and centre telling me how certain they are that I'll get a place, that I'm definitely going. I think most of those people felt they were being helpful and I don't blame them, I'm not angry with them but the whole way through there's something that I've done - I've lived in "two minds"
What do I mean by that? I mean that whilst I've tried my hardest to maintain the thought that I am definitely going and making arrangements for that (saving money to move house, looking at houses, buying resources, research etc), I have also maintained the idea that we wouldn't be going. I've let myself imagine both and accept both as plausible scenarios. It doesn't mean I've trudged my way through the whole thing being convinced I wouldn't get on, more that I've tried my hardest to keep my feet on the ground.
4. Look for the positives
And try to appreciate them as much as possible. I haven't got on my GTP and we won't be moving to Hull, but there's still so many awesome things that I can be thankful for. I still get to live by the river, I can cycle to the countryside in less than 15 minutes, I get to keep working with kids I utterly love to bits (and with a staff team who are really, really lovely), we've been able to free up some of the money we've saved for a couple of nice treats, I still get to stay in the city where some of my best friends live. Whilst there are a great many negatives (and I'm sure if I made a list, there's a possibility they would outweigh the positives), I'm trying to focus on those positive points as reminders that this moment of disappointment is not the end of the world.
5. Distract yourself
This has been one of the hardest things for me to do actually - being stuck at home on your own ill when you find out the piece of news you'd been dreading isn't the best way to do it. Talk to some of your dearest friends - but make sure that you don't just end up going round in circles. Yes, talk about it, but I want to refer you back to point 2 - don't wallow and don't get bitter. Tearing apart every little minutie of what you did or didn't do will not help at this point. Talk about it and then move on.
Yesterday I had conversations about being best friends with Pat Sharp (he tweeted me 3 times in a day - I'd say we're besties), philosophy, economics, food, skincare, clothing, Kindles.... a whole range of things (much like I would on any other normal days). I think it meant I was able to subconsciously absorb the information in a much calmer (and more entertaining/occasionally hilarious) way than had I kept repeating the same conversation. I often find this actually - I really don't like having to repeat the same (sad) stories to people because I don't think it's a healthy thing to do. If you ever want to know how something's gone, you have to chat to me no more than 24 hours after it because by that point, I'll have lost the will to talk about it ;)
6. Throw yourself into something else
But not something major. I'm not talking immediately applying for your next PHD straight away or anything like that. I mean a small, achievable, enjoyable project. Chances are you've maybe dedicated a lot of your time to whatever it is that's disappointed you (a relationship, a piece of work, an application process etc). It's possible that's been your main focus for weeks, months, maybe even years. Hence, you've maybe not had as much time for the things you love and enjoy as you'd like to have. Blog more, read more, make that dress you've been wanting to make, paint something, draw something. Personally, I've been throwing myself into reading interesting, thought provoking things and also designing Teach Ben How to Cook with Ben (which we hope is going to become an interesting, exciting community grown resource/project). Now is not the time for making any big decisions (although they'll need to be made at some point, I feel it's best to give the dust a little time to settle first) - it's the time to find something simple yet engaging and let yourself get immersed in the enjoyment of it.
7. Treat yourself
Sometimes I wonder if this is a motto of mine for life. I in no way believe that our possessions make us happy, nor that money makes us happy for that matter. A treat can be something as simple as booking an afternoon off work to sit in the park and have a picnic, to go for a long run and leave someone else to do the washing up, to read the rest of that book that you've never quite got round to finishing because you've been so immersed in the process and the stress of it all. When we discovered we weren't going to be moving, we were actually quite excited as it meant we're now able to go to a festival that weekend. We'd actually been a little sad that we weren't able to go to it, so it's been a lovely little treat to use some of the money we'd saved to move house on doing that.
8. Don't get too self involved
You aren't being punished. You're not a failure. Sometimes, things just don't work out. That's rubbish and I am desperately sorry if that's the case, but don't let this destroy your love for other people and your ability to be a friend to them, to support them, to love them. Can you use your anger and frustration in a positive way to help someone else? Do it! Don't let this stop you from helping out and caring about other people.
Phew! Sorry, quite a long post but I hope it helps someone somehow :) As always with this series, I am more than happy to help out in anyway I can, so feel free to drop me an email if you want to chat a little more.