We all know how it feels like to fall short of your expectations, to feel disappointed. Disappointment is something that we can’t avoid, it’s part and parcel of life.
My life has had its fair share of disappointments, be it both academically and non-academically. I constantly felt disappointed and dejected back in Junior College because I constantly failed to meet my expectations by failing to meet the mark and losing to my peers. I’m generally not a sporty person, so naturally I sub-consciously surrounded myself with friends of the same nature and interests, meaning the bulk of my friends were those who preferred to stay indoors, for fear of the sun burning a hole through their skin. They were the kind who joined clubs, not sports, and basically spent most of their time studying. As someone from ODAC (Outdoor Adventure Club), I guess I thread on the fine line between sports and clubs.
With a rather competitive nature, I naturally always felt the urge to best those around me (except for Chinese, which I asseverate as Achilles’ Heel) in Maths, Physics, Chemistry and General Paper. The two years through JC had been erratic, with the only constant factor being that my class never appeared on the “Slide of Fame” for results. My results varied quite a lot, one moment I’m doing relatively well, the next moment I’m being called over by my teacher because he/she is worried about my progress (with more empasis on the latter). Ultimately, I was rather fortunate to get a score for my As which allowed me to enter the course I was eyeing, but I still felt like I failed. Maybe it was because I didn’t make the cut for the “Hall of Fame” during results day, or maybe it was because I lost to every one of my friends. I was disappointed, and that stung badly.
Fast forward a year, when I’m nearly halfway through my National Service. I was elated to find out that I was shortlisted for a shot to join the elite shooters of the Asean Army Rifle Meet Rifle Team. I packed up my stuff, and headed over to the Infantry Vocational Training School for a week of further selection. Competition among us was tough as only 3 out of the 10 would be selected, but I still had my hopes that I could be shortlisted again to join the elite. As you would’ve guessed by my writing in this post, I failed to meet the cut. I packed my bags, and prepared to head back to Pulau Tekong, where I’ll be for the remaining 12 months.
I could say that I wasn’t disappointed, but that would be a lie. Disappointment always comes about when expectations fail to become a reality, and perhaps that’s why so many people, I feel, are afraid to have hope or expectations of anything. We would very much rather to live a pessimistic life and believe that we will never meet the mark, seeing as it is much more enjoyable to be pleasantly surprised rather than feel the soul-crushing shatter of our dreams. That’s what I’ve seen many people do: continuously talk about how they absolutely can’t make it anymore, or that they have zero chance at winning. It is the easy way to handle your problem, but it isn’t the right way.
Disappointment is always going to be part of our lives, be it in the form of unrequited love or failure to clinch a deal. It is always going to put us down and we are always going to have that constant fear of falling. However, it’s crucial to realise that we grow as a person through adversity. We learn from our mistakes and more importantly, where we can improve on. Evidently in my case, there’s always going to someone better than me and in turn, may have a better chance at competing with me for the same prize. However, we lose the battle immediately if we don’t have the courage to give our best. We will sub-consciously doubt our capabilities if all we’ve ever told ourselves is how we can’t do it. Even if it’s a low chance, it’s still a chance worth taking. We can’t have everything that we want in life, but it’s times like this that show me the value that sometimes, the process is more important than the outcome. The process of my A Levels enabled me to realise my ability to handle stress well, while the week-long trial selection for the elite shooting team taught me that everything happens for us, never to us.
Disappointment: it hurts like hell, but it is a fundamental experience in our lives.