Persistence and Dissapointment
Persistence is a good thing. When we persist, we have a greater chance of success. As long as we keep trying, we can do amazing things. From children’s books about trains to civil rights movements, persistence is consistently seen as one of the greatest human virtues.
For as much as we all love persistence, we rarely discuss its counterpart. For every great project completed with persistence, several more are abandoned. Unfinished novels, unfinished degrees, and unfinished pyramids litter the earth. There are probably more unfinished projects out there than completed ones. But no one sets out to not finish something.
Why are some things seen to completion, while others are abandoned? There could be a lot of reasons. Maybe the project was impossible. Maybe the visionary died.
But we can say that many things are abandoned when they fail to meet our expectations. It is easiest to abandon things, even things we love, when we are disappointed in them.
In school, when you study really hard for a test and still get a bad grade, it is easy to get discouraged. Why study at all? If you work hard at your job for years only to get passed up for a promotion, you might want to just quit.
Spending years dedicated to a masterpiece that never matches what is imagined so clearly in their mind can cause an artist to commit the whole thing to the flames.
It is also easiest to abandon people when we are disappointed in them. It takes a lot of work to care about people. When they don’t meet our expectations, there is an easy way out. After they have disappointed us, we can justify abandoning people instead of continuing to put work into caring about them. Disappointment is a powerful force, and many times it wins over other emotions.
Disappointment can even cause us to abandon things that don’t require any work at all. I have spent many great hours playing video games. But they are not always fun. Sometimes they are frustrating. On more than occasion, I have thrown the controller down and declared, “I’m never playing this stupid game again!”
But I love that stupid game. I was just disappointed for a moment.
I would actually be really sad if I never played video games again, just because I had a few bad moments. I would be sad if I never wrote another word, even though I am often disappointed in my writing. I would be sad if I stopped speaking to everyone who annoyed me or made me angry.
It is easy to abandon things when we are disappointed in them. Disappointment in the world causes some to give up on life altogether. So we must be careful. Just because we can abandon something doesn’t mean we should. At the same time, persistence is not always the best option either. But you should make sure the ship is actually sinking before you bail into the ocean. Make sure you don’t give up on something you love just because you were having a bad day.
A tale of abandonment after disappointment is normal.
A story of expectations always fulfilled is good, but sort of boring.
To stick with something through disappointment is the stuff of greatness.