It may be a slightly depressing way to start a blog but we all know it to be true: life is full of disappointment.
To be honest it’s not a depressing thing at all. Buddhists say that one of the first steps to enlightenment is to accept that suffering is a part of life. In fact without disappointment, the highs in life wouldn’t feel quite so high.
One of the most important lessons for children to learn throughout their childhood is how to deal with disappointment. From innocent emotional outbursts, through moody teenage silences, to adolescent cynical shrugs and mutters of “well I knew it would/wouldn’t happen”, we all experience disappointment and go through a range of methods to deal with it. It’s not nice when it happens, but in the same way that childhood illnesses strengthen our immune systems, childhood disappointments contribute toward our growing maturity.
We advertise drama as a creative place for children to imagine, devise and role-play, and it is, but it can also be a place of disappointment, heartbreak and weeping. All children, the poor sweet and naïve things, set their hearts on certain roles or parts in productions and all of them feel the bitter sting of rejection when they aren’t chosen. Some of them cry and tell me it’s not fair. Others claim to
be fine and then break down when they get home and explain to their parents the cruel injustice that has befallen them. There are also the stony silencers: those who would never give us the satisfaction of seeing their disappointment and will simply shrug their shoulders and look away when asked. It’s hard for everyone and make no mistake about it, one of the hardest things about casting a production is knowing that you’re going to let down a significant percentage of your auditionees.
But as I said in the opening, disappointment is a part of life and it actually contributes to your happiness as well. The joy and satisfaction when you ARE given the part you want stems directly from the contrast to the disappointment you’ve felt in the past when you weren’t. So rather than try to shelter ourselves and our children from these setbacks, we should be focussing on strategies to cope with them.
And just to return to my reference to Buddhism; Siddhartha Gautama never appreciated the riches he had because he’d always had them and never wanted for anything. Only by leaving the palace and witnessing suffering was he able to start walking the path to enlightenment.
Suffering and disappointment are a part of life, so embrace it and become a better person and performer.