Dealing with disappointment

Inigo Montoya: Who are you?

Man in Black: No one of consequence.

Inigo Montoya: I must know…

Man in Black: Get used to disappointment.

Inigo Montoya: ‘kay.

–The Princess Bride (1987)

Life is full of disappointments. Unless you have wrapped yourself in a safe, untouchable cocoon, you will experience failure and disappointment. That’s good. It shows that you aren’t afraid to try new things or to push beyond your current limits. How you react to present disappointments will establish how you react to future ones. Setting up a positive way to deal with them will lead to future success and resilience. Here are some tips on how to create a positive mindset when you experience setbacks and disappointment.

1. Feel the disappointment. Recognize that you are disappointed. Blowing it off or telling yourself that it wasn’t really important in the first place will keep you from setting high goals. Or any goals at all. You can’t make improvements if you have no aspirations. Risk big to win big.

This past Friday the Cutting Edge women were going to take their first road trip together to Galveston. It was going to be tons of fun. Snacks had been bought. A beach house was reserved. Plans for a seafood dinner and a walk on the beach had been discussed. We all needed a little break from our regular daily lives. This would be a time of playing games together, and laughter, and female bonding. But a huge snowstorm hit on Thursday night and we had to cancel. We literally couldn’t leave the Metroplex. I was really crushed. I had been working so hard on EVERYTHING–teaching, fencing, tutoring, coaching–and needed a change of scenery. I had earned it. We all had. Then I found out I was supposed to receive an award during the tournament for women who make significant contributions to fencing. That did it. I cried. I was so disappointed.

Traffic on Friday morning
Traffic on Friday morning (posted by Jason Gault on Facebook)

2. Get over it. You can’t mope about it forever. You have to move past it and get on with life. Drowning yourself in your disappointment will hold you back and keep you from achieving the next steps in your goals.

About an hour after I dried my tears, the texts started coming in. Texts suggesting that we get together for some bouting at the club over the weekend, followed by dinner out together. All the ladies refused to let this get them down. We were going to have our bonding time, bad weather or not!

3. Do something about it. Let your disappointment spur you to action and push you to do something you might not have considered before.

Then we realized that the tournament organizers had had to cancel the sabre events and therefore lost out on several hundred dollars. We decided to host our own all-girls tournament on Sunday afternoon–it was still too icy to drive on Saturday–and donate the proceeds to the Galveston host club.

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One lady and her daughter made prizes.

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We got a couple of other teammates (who wouldn’t have been in Galveston with us) to participate. One fencer who couldn’t attend made a donation. 13 fencers in all competed in the Frozen North tournament.

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We had fun.

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We wore our handmade prizes proudly…after we fought very hard for them. The third place match was particularly intense since both fencers wanted the same dragon charm necklace.

We ate dinner at a local British pub together to celebrate.

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It wasn’t the same but it helped us get past the disappointment. By feeling the disappointment, getting over it, and then doing something about it, we were able to accomplish a beautiful thing together. Which leads me to my last point:

4. Have a good support system in place. No one is an island. In fencing, we are alone on strip but that doesn’t mean we have no one to rely on after we’ve finished the bout/tournament. When you face disappointments and setbacks in your fencing career–which we ALL do–go to a teammate, coach, friend, family member, loved one and let them help you through the first three steps. Rinse, wash, repeat as necessary.

Thank you, ladies of CEFC, for making what could have been a letdown of a weekend into an inspirational experience. You rock.

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