A complete list of life’s disappointments and how I get over them.
Sometimes I like to think that I’m the only one who has ever had it hard. Life can make you feel that way. But it isn’t the truth, not by a long shot. For every story I weave about my disappointments and failures I find that there are a thousand other people who have had it harder.
But we as humans tend to only look at those people we deem as successful. You know those people who seem to be born with a lucky horseshoe shoved permanently in their behind. It’s easy to stay in that “poor me” mindset when all we see is our failures juxtaposed with those who are #winning. When we realize we are not alone in our suffering, that the story we are telling ourselves is nothing new, it becomes a bit easier to get over it and move on.
I was about ten when I realized that I was the odd person out in my family. I probably realized it sooner and didn’t understand the feelings of constant loneliness and not belonging. I tried as most people often do to become what I felt they wanted me to be. But as everyone who has gone down that road knows, it never works. The only thing I learned from that endeavor is that I could never be myself around them. They would only accept the façade.
The Fix: Accepting yourself for who you are is the first step. Only after making peace with who you are can you accept your family for not understanding you. And know this — they never will. Some of us are lucky to be born into families where its members love unconditionally. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do. You will always be loved and accepted. My family ridiculed me for sport, and it wasn’t until I stood up for myself and told them how it made me feel that it stopped.
But it took me a long time to get up the courage to do that and many years of suffering. I had to get to the point of not caring whether or not they liked me to be able to do it. But once you’re there, you’ll realize that you have nothing to lose by speaking up and everything to gain if they listen.
I wanted to be a great many things, F.B.I. Agent, Attorney, Forensic Pathologist, Best Selling Author, Entrepreneur, Musician, and Chef. None of the above did I become. Not because I didn’t try but because life just had other plans for me. I had the unfortunate luck of applying to the F.B.I. right out of college which was a year after 9/11. If you didn’t speak any of the many languages spoken in the Middle East, they didn’t want you. I got a job as a Paralegal and worked for one of the top law firms in the country. I was on track to go to law school, but then my mother got cancer, and instead of moving to another state to go to law school, I went back home until she passed away. Later I got married, had three kids, and we all know how the story goes from there.
The Fix: Sometimes goals are just unattainable, we can’t get the capital it would require to start our businesses, or we don’t have the time to go back to school. But know that it is only temporary. There are times when we have to be realistic with ourselves. It’s probably unlikely that we’re going to be the next pop sensation at forty-five, but there’s a good chance that with the right band you might be great locally.
Sometimes we have to think smaller and not be so focused on world domination. Not everyone is uber successful, and that’s okay. We aren’t required to be. The only thing that is necessary is that we endeavor every day to be good people in whatever we decide to do. Most times you have to fail to succeed which sounds cheesy, but it’s true. We never see the mountain of failures people rake up before they eventually kill it.
I spent the better part of my twenties believing I was a Kardashian before they were the Kardashians. I spent money I didn’t have and would take a decade to repay on “living my best life,” and being a “baller” on a beer budget. I was always the first one to treat my “friends” to anything they wanted, dinner, movies, clothes, a loan. It was always on me.
Looking back I did it all because I was desperate for friends and thought I had to buy them. I didn’t know I could rely on my sparkling personality, but that is a whole other article for another day. Then I took my student loans and credit card debt into marriage and created more debt filling our home with things we thought we had to have. We made our beds, and we had to lie in them.
The Fix: Savings and living within my means, which is easier said than done. Some of the positions I’ve had over the years didn’t allow me to save. If I paid all of my bills on time, I would have $5 until the next payday. I became an artist in robbing Peter to pay Paul, which I do not recommend.
What I wish I would have done was saved in my twenties, when I was single and didn’t need anything. Instead, I blew away thousands of dollars and lived in an expensive apartment because it was only me. All of the things I bought back then I no longer have, and I could have saved myself $300 on that fancy apartment by living a little farther away from the city.
The problem was 100% me. I was so worried about people’s perceptions of me and how they saw my financials that I lived too far outside of my means. I didn’t want to appear poor. I grew up that way. I tried to look successful even if I wasn’t. I bought things I didn’t need or want to fill up all the holes that I didn’t want to acknowledge were there. Once I fixed myself, I stopped overspending and became satisfied with what I have.
Feelings of Inadequacy
I have always felt like I didn’t belong and as a result, felt like I was failing at life because I didn’t have close relationships with my peers. I find it hard to make friends and stay friends with anyone. I’m a bit of a loner. I love my alone time. I don’t get enough of it. But I can’t help but feel like a failure when I look at the Instagram feeds of all the people I know who go on girlfriend retreats and I don’t even have enough female friends to fill a wedding party.
The Fix: Owning my otherness. I had to accept myself and realize that I am not the type of person who has female friends or even enjoys a night out on the town. Until I was okay with not doing all of the socially acceptable things that people my age do, I was miserable. Trying to fit into a mold I was not made to fit into brought me more grief than anything else has in my life.
Life becomes easier once you begin living your life instead of everyone else’s.
I went into marriage believing the lie that if you and your significant other love each other enough then it should be easy. Committing to living with another human adult for the rest of your life is not easy. I think if I would have thought about it beyond the white dress and honeymoon, I might have had the common sense to realize that.
Marriage is hard, and it requires a love that compels you to chose your partner every single day. No one stays the same. The key to marriage is the ability to adjust with your partner over time. To grow with them, to inspire them, to help them and thereby to help and improve yourself in the process.
When my first marriage ended I blamed everyone and everything else for its failure except myself. The result, I have issues in my second marriage though not entirely the same. But still, the overarching theme is me. My insecurities, my lack of understanding and patience are the reasons for half of our issues.
The Fix: Working on myself. Often in relationships, we look to the other person to change. We believe that all of our issues are based on their lack of X. Maybe it is, and perhaps it’s just you. I know in my case a lot of it is me. I started working on myself. Changing my mindset and reading books on relationships. I wasn’t raised with a good example of a marriage, but I can do better.
I know what you are thinking, how is this woman who already has three children going to tell me about how it feels to suffer from infertility? What does she know about the guilt, depression, shame, and disappointment that comes with not being able to conceive a child? What does she know about the constant battle between jealousy and feeling guilty and ashamed for being jealous in the first place?
After I met my second husband, we wanted to have a child together, but I could no longer conceive. I wanted more children not only to share the experience with him but because I felt like I had an ocean full of love inside of me, even after giving it all to the children I had.
My children are the most doted on, spoiled, and loved children you’ll ever meet. And yet I still have so much more to give. I lived through the anger at the doctors who botched my surgery and made me this way. I’ve lived through the depression and the resentment I feel towards my friends who are still fertile myrtles. I’ve felt guilty and ashamed for feeling that way.
It’s not their fault that I’m broken.
The Fix: It took a long time for me to give up on the idea that we would have a child. I pestered him regularly about adoption which wasn’t an option for him. We discussed surrogacy, but I felt it selfish to put myself in harm’s way when I already have children.
Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the desires of the few.
In the end, I wound up as a teacher’s assistant at my neighborhood school. I can dole out all of the extra love to the kids who need it the most. I am the giver of hugs, fist bumps, and encouragement. I am the shoulder to cry on and the friend when no one else wants to play with them. I went from having three kids to hundreds, and it filled the hole. Those kids give more to me than I could ever give to them.
I used to say I’ve never met a person who didn’t at some point disappoint me. I think it’s because I expect too much. I hope that people I barely know will want to be my best friend without putting in the time to be that. I expect people never to do anything that will let me down. No one is that perfect, even if I hold myself to that standard.
The Fix: Lowering my expectations but not to the extent that I become a doormat. I had to realize that people are human with their particular wants, needs, and desires. Sometimes their list will not match up with mine. Most often it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean they love me any less.
I also had to stop thinking that everyone else holds themselves to the same standard I do. Once I did that, people didn’t disappoint me as much. They were simply human.
When things happen in life, it’s easy to look outside of ourselves and find fault elsewhere. But most of the time, when life throws us curveballs its to point us in another direction. When life lets us down, it’s in that moment we need to look in the mirror and figure out why it hurts so much. Once you do the work in fixing yourself, you can fix anything, and life disappoints you a little less.