Dealing with Disappointment
At the start of the year I wrote a blog entry outlining my goals for the year, specifically:
- Learn Rust. Use it to build a StarCraft bot.
- Climb three new mountains.
- Complete the Mazamas Intermediate Climbing School (ICS)
I accomplished the first goal pretty early on. You can read about it here. The second took a little longer, but I eventually summitted three new mountains, Mt. Hood, Old Snowy, and Three Finger Jack. In order to complete Intermediate Climbing School however, I first had to be accepted.
I accomplished all the pre-requisites well in advance. I volunteered with the Mazamas, teaching courses, performing trail maintenance, and leading hikes. I spent hours painstakingly crafting my ICS application essays and climbing resume. I also aced the ICS entrance exam, performing better than many of my peers.
And yet, after all of that, I received a simple three sentence email:
“We’re sorry to let you know that you were not selected for this year’s Intermediate Climbing School.
This year ICS had a record number of applicants. There simply was not enough space for everyone who was qualified. We hope you continue to climb and learn, and please consider applying to ICS next year.”
My gut reaction was one of crushing defeat, bordering on despondence. If I couldn’t get in this year, after all I had done, how could I expect next year to be any different? Which brings us to the topic of this month’s entry: dealing with disappointment.
I knew that I had to take some positive action, no matter how minor, to get myself out of the funk that I had fallen into. After some deliberation I decided my best course of action was to email the ICS instructors directly and ask what I might do to be more competitive for next year. The lead instructor replied that same day and said that I would be best served by completing more climbs that required crampons, ice axes, and roped team travel.
That little bit of guidance made all the difference in my mentality. Instead of wondering hopelessly what I could have done differently, I now had a goal to strive for, something concrete to improve upon. Even better, alpine snow and glacier climbs are already my favorite climbing types. So really I just needed to do more of what I already loved.
To summarize, try to look at failures not as the end of an ambition, but the beginning of a new one. Create concrete steps towards that new goal and focus on what you can do now to advance towards it, rather than what you could have done to have accomplished your past objective.
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