When people think about dark emotions, we think about the big ones. Depression. Grief. Despair. Fear. Restriction. Addiction. And so on.
But in a society such as ours, in which people are free, and the majority are fed, clothed, and housed, I really think one of the darkest emotions is disillusionment.
At least, it used to be for me.
I spent a lot of my teens and twenties, probably from 15 to about 27, in a constant flux of dreaming followed by disillusionment. All through high school, I kept thinking college would be a bastion of excitement for me, except I hated college. I didn’t get invited to parties. I didn’t have many intellectual conversations outside of class. And I’ll admit, it was me — I didn’t know how to make the most of things.
Then I kept dreaming of medical school, only to find that I disliked that more than college. More disillusionment.
I’ve had disillusionment about not only my career, but also romantic relationships, friendships, diet/workout regimens, hobbies — you name it.
But the cure isn’t to stop. Keeping the dream alive, and keeping faith after each and every attempt — that’s how you keep disillusionment from winning. It’s not foolishness if you get smarter with each attempt. It’s not hubris if you keep improving. It’s the journey. It’s the only way.
I’m writing this because I think disillusionment is a disease. I want to help cure it. I see way too many smart, talented, lovely people succumb to lives they don’t want, because they’ve been disillusioned one too many times. They think settling is the only way. And it’s not.
The key is to let your dreams bend, so they don’t break. The goal can stay the same, but you have to let your plans bend. You have to accept that the world doesn’t always greet you with open arms when you charge at it. But you have to keep on charging, and reassessing, and charging. On repeat until you get there. Keeping disillusionment at bay.
The hardest part of disillusionment, for me, is what others have said about me. When you keep your lofty goals from age 18, people sometimes think you’re foolish or self-centered. That your efforts are sloppy at best and futile at worst. I’ve been called a lot of things through the years, particularly when I was at low points, and some of them really hurt. But I’ve learned from the useful criticism how to improve, and learned from the insults who to cut out of my life.
But you have to believe that, by giving every attempt your all, you’re getting stronger every time you fall and get back up. I think my best trait is my resilience. I don’t give up, and I don’t take no for an answer.
At the end of the day, give yourself time to heal, and get right back up and go. Disillusionment needs to be managed. I’m an emotional person, and I can’t always get right up from a disappointment and go right into “deal with it” mode. That said, it doesn’t take me long. A day or two of reading some favorite books, journaling, meditating, walking in nature, and sleeping a little more, and I’m healed and ready to go.
Don’t give up on your dreams. I personally believe God wouldn’t have given you the dream if he didn’t want you to achieve it. But those are my beliefs. I also know it’s a hell of a lot easier to succeed if you give yourself 10,000 attempts rather than 5. Just a thought.