I’ve disappointed a lot of people.
It was not comfortable.
But you know what? It was totally worth it, because it was absolutely necessary in order to stay true to who I am and what I believe in.
I disappointed the racist professor at our dinner table (and my date trying to get a job with their University) when he said, “I can’t believe people still think racism is even an issue. I mean, slavery ended over 100 years ago.” I pointed out that in fact, while slavery had ended in 1865, segregation didn’t end until 1964 (and that was only on paper) and many Americans in a recent poll said they’d rather be blind than black. Then I took a sip of wine from my glass and smiled at everyone.
I disappointed the client that wanted me to just give them the answer instead of having them do the hard – but rewarding – work of coming up with the answer themselves, and taking the risk to trust their heart. That’s not what coaching is about. It’s about self-discovery and evolution.
I disappointed my parents when I took a job that paid $50 a day and required me to live out of my car and sleep on the ground, instead of going on to get my PhD like they had dreamed. They had worked extra jobs to ensure I was able to go to a private high school instead of our gang-ridden public school, and after college I entered a lifestyle as a climbing guide that appeared to them to be a downgrade from our already sparse lifestyle. But I loved every minute of it.
I disappointed my first husband when he never tragically hurt me or cheated on me or failed to support me. He was a good man. But not the right man. And I asked for a divorce.
I could go on and on about the ways I’ve had to disappoint others in order to stay true to myself. Was it hard? For sure. Do you know what would have been harder?
It should be harder to disappoint yourself than it is to disappoint others. Yet often we would rather let ourselves down than someone else.
We are taught this from a very young age – especially women. We are taught to put others before ourselves, and not in a compassionate way. We are taught to prioritize others in a survivalist way. We are told overtly and subtly that if we let people down – if we disappoint others – we are putting our own worth at risk.
We take the job we don’t really want. We say “yes” to things we don’t want to (any people-pleasers in the house?). We stay in the unfulfilling relationship because we think we should be lucky to have someone who loves us. We don’t wear what we really want out dancing. We don’t order what we want for dinner. We don’t travel around the world instead of heading straight into college or graduate school or that next job. We say “yes” to the food pushers even though we know the cake they are guilting us into eating will make us feel like crap. We have that drink that’s one-too-many because we want to fit in.
Here’s the deal: being willing to disappoint others in order to stay true to yourself is part of the price for evolving and moving towards the life you want to create for yourself.
If you aren’t disappointing others, you aren’t really in the game.
Who will you need to disappoint to move one step closer to your dreams?
Check out this poem by Oriah Mountain Dreamer. It’s one of my faves. I highly recommend you read this as in invitation to yourself.
It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.
It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the centre of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed from fear of further pain.
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own; if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself. If you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul. If you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see Beauty even when it is not pretty every day. And if you can source your own life from its presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand at the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, ‘Yes.’
It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone and do what needs to be done to feed the children.
It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the centre of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away.
I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer