This morning I got some bad news at work, and I was crushed. Crushed really is the most appropriate word for the disappointment that immediately follows expectant jubilance. The pit of my stomach suddenly felt so hollow, my lungs suddenly resisted inflating. Everything that was once full suddenly became empty… Perhaps this seems dramatic, but after soldiering on over the past couple of years and smiling in the face of tiny disappointment after tiny disappointment, this one big disappointment was too much.
Disappointment is such a bitter emotion, especially when your disappointment is in yourself.
As you may imagine, I’ve been thinking a lot today about how people bounce back after sadness and bad days and disappointing news. It seems like there are two types of people in this world:
- those that fight to change their situation
- those that accept their situation and adapt
I am very firmly in the latter group. Unfortunately my own personal Serenity Prayer ends after the first line and I don’t yet have ‘the courage to change the things I can’ OR ‘the wisdom to know the difference.’ I envy those that fight to change what happened and retaliate and complain to the appropriate people and make action steps to right the very horrible wrong. But I am not one of those people – I don’t revel in my successes or my failures for too awfully long.
The good thing about getting thrown off my path is that it forces me to walk back to my path. And before walking back to my path, I kind of have to look around and see where I am. Now that I’ve started to adapt to my disappointment and am 73% uncrushed, I can see where I may perhaps have been on the wrong path.
Somehow, I became stagnant in the security of a good enough life.
Bitter questions that had been rolling around in the recesses of my mind suddenly became the only ones I could think about this morning: Am I good enough? Am I ‘less than’ in the way that I was just quantitatively proven to be? Every day, when I show up and work hard and care deeply and smile when sad and find solutions when against a brick wall, am I doing the right thing?
And even though these questions seem so sad and counterproductive, I think they are GOOD. For me they are very good. Even though I am still sad and am now 78% uncrushed (because just writing all of this down is helping so so so much), now I can ask the better questions. What am I doing with my life? Do I want to go back to what I left in the US and pick up where I left off? What do I want to take from my experience in Rwanda so that I can build a life that is more fulfilling and more meaningful? What do I want to give to Rwanda? What will I do differently tomorrow? What will I do differently next week?
I have to end this post without a tidy summary. Too many questions are swirling around in my head to write a conclusion that packages this post with a neat little bow. But despite the misery and despite the doubt, sometimes isn’t the questioning the best part?
And even if it isn’t, at least I can look forward to the sun rising over Kigali and bringing light to all of these thousand hills, much as it did yesterday, and the day before that. And the sun rising in the east and lighting up just one more day is enough for me. How lucky I am for that.
Be well, friends. And Ijoro Rwiza. (‘Have a good night’ in Kinyarwanda)
Dana (but sadly not Barley) in Kigali