This past week, my peers and I had our first midterms, and we also received our first set of grades back. As we were receiving our marks, I felt a general sense and atmosphere of disappointment. I even found myself somewhat let down, and as the day came to an end, I ultimately fell down a rabbit hole of thinking of every mistake and mess I’ve made in the past. Luckily, this led me to reflect on a particular core memory of mine: the time I accidentally committed theft as a child.
My family and I went to get groceries one night after my weekly violin lessons. It was finally the weekend, so I was allowed to pick a special treat. We walked through the sliding doors and were met with a cool breeze. I dashed my way to the bakery and scoured the tables for the finest sugary delight. Not long after, I came across my choice of dessert; the commendable two-bite brownies, my one true weakness as a child. I simply could not resist their mouth-watering chocolatey goodness in all their chewy textured glory. I zealously rushed towards my weekend delicacy and grabbed a bag of melt-in-your-mouth goods, holding onto them dearly. Once all shopping was done, my family proceeded to the cash, paid for our things, and headed back towards our car.
As we walked through the parking lot, I thought of how ready I was to get home and demolish my favourite treat, but realization struck, stopping me in my tracks. My eyes widened in horror. I looked up at my dad, whose face was full of confusion. Tears began to prick at my eyes. I had forgotten to give the cashier my money. What have I done? How could I be so stupid? So naive? Seven years old, and I’m already a criminal! I felt entirely disheartened and consuming thoughts swirled through my mind.
But to my dismay, instead of being lectured, my father simply took my hand, and we walked back into the Independent Grocer. I apologized to the cashier, we paid for my brownies. However, despite having apologized and paid for my brownies, I still had this awful feeling eating away at me. I hadn’t been thinking, and I did something that was completely out of character for me. I had let myself down.
After much consoling on my parents’ end, I was in much better spirits. Although the memory stayed, the wretched feeling started to dissipate; I felt a heavy weight beginning to lift off my shoulders and a tight compress slowly unravelling from my brain. I decided to forgive myself and have a couple of brownies.
I’ve always thought back on this moment regularly, and that’s because as peculiar as it is, it’s the first time I remember feeling genuine disappointment towards myself. I also love thinking of this occurrence because it seems to put things into perspective, or at the very least make me laugh.
At the end of the day, although I’d like to say that I wish I had a dozen do-overs, where I could do better in certain situations and avoid any sort of failure. But I can’t. I once cringed at this event in my life, wishing I could scrub it from my mind entirely, but now I look back on it fondly and have pulled a variety of lessons from that one slight mishap. If anything, I think my friends and family now wish this story would be erased from my brain, solely as a result of how many times I’ve recounted it in relation to different circumstances.
That experience from when I was merely seven years old led me to be much more cautious and aware of my surroundings (no doubt due to the fact I was terrified of letting anything of the sort happen ever again). Yet, I also learned not to take myself too seriously and not to let one moment consume me, because mistakes do happen, and I was certainly going to make many more in my lifetime.
As for my more recent encounters with disappointment, I’m still mildly upset with myself regarding certain assignments and adjustments to post-secondary. However, I’m finding myself being even more driven to focus and succeed. I’m also starting to accept that I’m trying my best and shouldn’t obsess over my grades to that degree, like with the brownies, which is already a major improvement in comparison to the viewpoint of my education in the past.
Disappointment feels gut-wrenching at times, but there’s no doubt it teaches us certain lessons, making us stronger in the long run. So, I’m now learning to embrace the disappointment, and instead of simply dwelling on specific blunders, I’m trying to learn from them.