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Using Disappointment As A Lesson

By Maya Palavali
Editorial Page Editor


As the classroom fills with chatter, I sit on the edge of my seat. Since it was the final semester of fifth grade, the class was assigned to write a piece of poetry about their school experience. This was it ; this would be the fruit of my labors. My teacher drops a paper on my desk, and I pick it up:

“79. The idea is there, but the writing is lacking. It needs to be better.”

Stunned, I grip the paper as I hold back tears. 

Disappointment. We’ve all felt it, whether it be failing grades or countless rejections. It’s a termtossed around, but we only attribute it to our biggest failures. 


dis-ap-point-ment/ noun Sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one’s hopes and dreams.

The feeling of disappointment weighs heavy and isn’t an emotion that’s easy to deal with. It’s seemingly inevitable we fall into that pit of despair whenever you begin to feel the emotion’s ugly claws. But what if we let ourselves fully process disappointment to use it as motivation for the future?

Whenever we feel negative emotions, it’s natural to try to fix the “problem” that arises through practices such as avoidance or blame. But the key to healing is to learn, which requires sitting in that hurt.

Instead of looking at that feeling or event through a strictly negative lens, switch it out for something more positive. Try reframing your thinking from blaming yourself to figuring out how to use this for the better.

Turning disappointment into motivation is a hard process; it’s the changing of a long-held belief you’re trying to dispel. Changing your mindset takes time and a lot of practice. The journey of positivity is not linear, and the results are gradual. It’s disappointing at first to even realize how difficult it is. 

So, start off small. If you miss your alarm, use the feeling that washes over you to set a couple more for the next day and sleep early. If you lose your keys at home, create a space in your home to keep them for the future. Do what you can for your future self in the moment of disappointment. 

I wouldn’t have continued writing if not for my initial disappointments. Writing would’ve turned into a short-term phase, something I lost interest in as I found the next best thing. The depth of those emotions are what have shaped me into who I am today.

Now I’ve become so much more than I hoped. My work has been published multiple times, I was selected for a prestigious journalism program and I have the privilege of interning with Texas Metro News; my stories are reaching people in a way I never thought was possible.

Building a better future for yourself starts now, even if you’re hurting. It’s up to you to push yourself to become who you want to be.

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