As I was talking to a young person currently dealing with a difficult disappointment, I realized that there are just some things in life that will always bother us. People often say, “You will get over it,” and literally, we do; we find a way to move on. But, when we think about or are reminded of the experience it may bring back significant emotions, even if for a moment. I mean, how can you tell someone that the death of a loved one, the collapse of a major dream, or an unanticipated disappointment may not always bring back not-so-happy feelings? The feelings will likely not be as strong as when the experience first happened, but you will likely never recollect with elation.
So, I gave that person many different examples of some of my worse disappointments in life in an attempt to encourage them, only to find myself ending each story with “there may always be a part of it that still bothers you.” As they confidently asserted that they will never get over their disappointment, I could only respond with “for the rest of your life it may bother you, but you will find a way to get over it.”
Some people will tell you that you must arrive at a perfect place of contentment in order to truly get over something. They may argue that you need “closure,” to which I completely agree. However, closure does not always need to contain “happy” feelings about the situation; it only means that you come to a place of acceptance… “It happened and there is nothing you can do about it except move on and worry about the next steps of life.”
After the conversation, it made me think about the hurdle race in track and field. As a former runner, I understand that the ideal way to complete the race is to successfully move over every hurdle without touching or knocking any over. Each contacted barrier has the potential to slow race time because it interrupts the optimal stride. If the hurdle is completely knocked over, the runner stays focused, quickly regains running form, and readjust so as not to knock over the next hurdle. I do not think that for every hurdle we hit in life we are meant to look back on it and be “happy” that we knocked it over. We knock down barriers and move over hurdles, so in this analogy the often used expression “knock down those hurdles” does not apply. Yes, at the end of the race, win or lose, the runner evaluates the race to determine how each hurdle affected the overall race time, but you will never find a hurdler that is ever “happy” they knocked over a hurdle. The only thing they focus on is learning from it, training harder, and racing more efficiently so the next time they move over the hurdles as opposed to knocking them down.
Such is life. Many times disappointments are like the hurdles we touch or knock over. Ideally, we may not want to experience disappointment, but typically, we do. It is a part of life. When we hit a hurdle, the feelings will likely never be ones of pride or ecstasy, so all we can do is focus on moving over the hurdles to come.
What they should say about life is that most times we will get over it, but we may never feel “happy” about it. Thankfully, there are many other things in life to be happy about, so in the end, the good will often outweigh the bad.