Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Disappointment #My500Words #222

It's Day 26 of the My 500 Words Challenge and today's task is to write about disappointment, to (as Jeff Goins puts it) "tell the story, confess the failure, and help us learn with you. How can we, even in the midst of disappointment and despair, still find hope?".

First there are many levels of disappointment. I've just finished reading a book: "The Crusades" by Abigail Archer, which I was very disappointed with. I get disappointed every time I check my Lotto tickets, or don't win a bottle of wine in a draw. Some meals out in a restaurant are disappointing, and even the odd pint is disappointing. Some pricey wines are disappointing, but that leaves me satisfied with the cheaper stuff!

Paris Tuileries Garden Facepalm statue.jpg
Caïn, by Henri Vidal.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
In sport the big disappointments are about being a fan of the Ireland soccer team - I was disappointed when Wim Kieft scored that deflected goal for The Netherlands to knock Ireland out of Euro '88, when Salvatore Schillaci knocked us out of Italia '90, when Gaizka Mendieta scored the wining goal for Spain in the penalty shoot-out in Japan-Korea 2002, and when Thierry Henry handled the ball to knock us out in the play-off for South Africa 2010. The only representative sport I ever played was Gaelic football - in school we were knocked out of a few competitions, while in Trinity I played for the 2nd football team - no major disappointments as we were shite.

I did have some disappointments with jobs I applied for. In 1988 I was offered a position in an e-Learning company called Intuition - I would be starting in 3-4 weeks. I had just finished my PhD and was relieved and pleased with myself to get a job. However, the weeks passed and there was no communication from Intuition, and I gradually realised that I would not get the job. I was gutted. I also had some disappointments applying for other jobs and promotions I would have like to have got. Hopefully I won't be disappointed on this front again as I do not intend applying for any more jobs - retirement is in less than 10 years time!

By far the biggest disappointment in my life was failing my second year repeat exams in Trinity. It was the end of September or early October 1980 and I was confident I would pull off a pass just like I had somehow done with the first year exams 12 months earlier. I walked confidently to the hall of the Chemistry building to look up the results on the Notice Board inside - no websites or emails in those days. I remember giving a thumbs up to a friend outside the door who already knew that I had failed - I should have got a clue when he did not look me in the eye. When I saw my results I was crushed. How could this have happened? It wasn't by a narrow margin that I had failed, but by a considerable amount. I lived with this failure for a few years and I don't think I really got over it until I graduated from Trinity seven years later with a PhD. Despite this disappointment, it was one of the most salutary lessons in my life - I never looked back. 

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