How I deal with disappointment

It has been six months since I quit my job and haven’t found another. Perhaps in another era or country, this would not be a big deal. But here and now, it feels like I gave up a seat in an air-conditioned Mumbai Local, and now I’m just stuck on the platform struggling to even get on the train.

I have lost count of how many jobs I’ve applied to. My friends had warned me that this might happen, and I knew the risk I was taking, and why I was taking it. I just didn’t think it would take so long.

No wonder everyone is against such a step, because it’s like signing a post-dated cheque of a lot of disappointment headed your way.

So how do you deal with it?

Telling someone not to have high expectations isn’t really good advice. How can you not be excited when the phone rings and Truecaller says it’s a recruiter? How can you not be a teensy bit excited every time an HR says on the phone he/she’ll call you back? How can you not be excited right after you give a good interview? How can you stifle that bubble of expectation when a friend says he/she’ll help, but really doesn’t?

No, don’t dare tell anyone to live without expectations, and attain Nirvana like there’s an app for it.

Instead, learn how to deal with the disappointment, because there is simply no escaping it. And my recent experiences have been a crash course in learning that.

The idea occurred to me when I was reading through the opinions of disgruntled Manchester United fans on reddit. Every time this team loses, a million people groan throughout the world, and come online to put that into some angry words and what the club ought to do.

I wondered what the players themselves felt like after a loss, never mind the fans. And then I remembered what they have often written on social media over the years. Three words stood out brightly in my memory: We go again.

The words may look quite ordinary, but the idea is quite powerful, at least the way I have perceived it.

What else can the players do? They’ve just lost a game. When it hurts me so much as a fan, I cannot imagine the pain a player endures. Some fans think they wouldn’t care because of their astronomical wages, but I disagree. Losing hurts. What can they do? Maybe they’ll sulk, scream at someone, punch the wall, or stifle a tear while going to sleep. Maybe they’ll do all of it today, because today they lost.

But tomorrow? We go again. Wake up, train harder than ever for the next match.

What if they lose that as well? Rage. Brood. Sleep. Wake up. Train. Repeat.

If there is anything I’ve learnt this year, it is that feelings never change what we’re supposed to do. Of course we cannot avoid them, we just have to accept them, then do what we must anyway.

Take Ashley Young for instance. He is an ageing Manchester United player, and anyone who watches football will agree his best days are past, and that United needs a stronger player for his position (RB). There is no debate here. The manager probably knows this too, and heck, Ashley Young knows that too.

Time is against him. So are the fans. So are his legs.

But I ask you, what can Ashley Young do about that? Just give in to life’s impermanence and hang up his boots? Absolutely bloody not. The moment he is out there on the pitch, he plays his heart out, busting his lungs and muscles at every tackle and in every run. And I can’t help but feel awed at him, for even in loss and mistakes, his ferocious heart roars.

These are the things I really love about football, you can learn so much about life, even when your club is losing. It’s part of their game, and it’s part of ours.

I’m crushed every day I don’t get called for an interview. Every single day. Watching all my friends getting promoted or reaching other milestones, hasn’t helped at all. I am so used to it now, I just let those feelings come. Sometimes I rant about it. But tomorrow when I wake up, I will find other jobs to apply to, write more mails, go for a run, read a bit, and learn something new. No feeling in the world can change that.

Today I’m disappointed, but tomorrow: We go again. And again. And again.

“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

— Dylan Thomas

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