I had just turned 21 and finished my Bachelor of Arts with a major in Japanese and English. As my next step, I decided to return to Japan to consolidate my language skills so that I might hopefully become a translator/interpreter in the future. To fund my dream, I applied for a scholarship program to teach and study in Japan, and as my marks were good, I felt pretty confident. But my application was unsuccessful, and I was bitterly disappointed. I felt so humiliated that my skills and my language ability obviously weren’t up to scratch. I was devastated that the dreams I had created in the clouds of my mind of life and love in Japan, had been knocked back. I remember sitting gloomily at my Nana’s polished round dining table, playing with the placemats depicting horse and hound hunting scenes. As she placed a cup of tea in front of me, she said, “Aye, well, disappointment is good for the young.” She was very direct, my Nana. She was Scottish and wasted little time and energy on unnecessary and indulgent emotions. At the time I was put out, and while I grumpily finished my cup of tea, I thought, “what a stupid comment. What the hell is that supposed to mean?” However, once the cut of the disappointment healed over, I picked myself up and got over it.
Nana’s words have stayed with me, and have played back in my mind, especially when disappointment comes my way. Disappointment (apart from being one of the most frequently misspelt words around – trust me, I’m a high school English teacher!!) is part and parcel of life. It happens when hopes are not realised in the way we expect, anticipate, want. It happens when we feel unfairly judged. It happens when our expectations are not met. It happens when our world view is not reflected back to us, and we are left feeling small, confused, sad. Disappointed.
But is disappointment good for the young? I recently suffered a disappointment. It’s been a tough few months with hopes and expectations running high. I’m playing a waiting game at the moment and it’s tiring. And I guess that longer the hopes and expectations are held out, the greater the disappointment is going to be if they are not realised in my favour. So within this cycle of waiting, I was handed a candle of hope. It was to be a potential banner of recognition for my efforts. A potential ticket to help me move forward in a new direction. It was a certificate of merit for all that I had done and achieved with the business over the past 5 years.
But while I was gazing at the candle, my hopes raised and my excitement brewing, it was snuffed out. And yes, I was disappointed. Probably more disappointed than I have been for a long time. I was humiliated, hurt and felt waves of indulgent delusions that I had somehow been cheated of something I deserved.
But I’m OK. And I’m pleased at how quickly my disappointment has been put in its place. Unlike the disappointments of my youth, it hasn’t stayed with me for days. It hasn’t been my last thought before sleep and my first thought upon waking. The rejection still feels a bit sore, but I can look beyond that and see the healing already begun. Why? Because disappointment IS good for the young.
When you are young it’s necessary to learn and acknowledge that the world is not just for you, learn that your skills and abilities and talents are not always recognised by others, learn that you might not be the best person for the job, learn that just because you want something doesn’t make it yours. It is through disappointment that you learn that doors close, and as you turn and walk away, another door may well open. Is it destiny? Is it God? Is it the Universal path? I don’t know. But I do know that my disappointments have made me stronger, more realistic, more patient, more pragmatic and more grounded. But, I still dream.
I still soar lofty heights, carried away on the wings of my dreams. But I don’t let my dreams overtake me and I don’t allow them to carry me so high, so that when disappointment comes and dumps me on the doorstep of reality, I don’t feel quite so completely empty and not completely sucked of all hope and reason.
Yes, disappointment is good for the young, because it teaches you to balance your expectations, and in doing so you come to realise that everybody is on a path and there are always reasons for decisions that you might never know nor understand. It teaches you caution to consider all the possibilities of a situation, so that you give yourself multiple pathways to follow and multiple exit points. Disappointment teaches you to dream, but not to dream so wildly and with such exaggeration that you lose sight of the ground and the path that you might need to walk in order to get there. Life is a journey and disappointments are often signposts, proceed with caution lights, intersections and stop signs.
Thank you, Nana. Thank you for your words of wisdom shared not through bitterness nor wishing disappoint upon others. But because you knew that in life, disappointments are inevitable. If you dream, if you hope, if you long, wish, yearn, have expectations, then you will experience disappointment. And an important part in the journey of life is developing resilience, patience, pragmatism, stoicism and hope beyond the present.
So my thoughts with this recent disappointment was that it is important to be kind to ourselves. To forgive ourselves where we think we may have failed or been lacking. To lift ourselves up with gentle words and with warm cuddles. Maybe a chocolate cake cuddle might help.
So I’d like to share my luscious and delicious chocolate cake recipe with you. So that if you’re feeling blue or disappointed, you can give yourself a little chocolate cuddle. J x
Disappointment-is-good-for-the-young Chocolate Cake
180g butter, softened (I always use salted butter)
250g (1½ cups) brown sugar
150g (½ cup) maple syrup
3 eggs, at room temperature and separated
150g dark chocolate + 30g butter, melted
325g (1½ cup) milk, at room temperature
1½ tsp vanilla essence
60g (½ cup) cocoa, sifted
300g (2 cup), Birdseed All-Purpose Flour
3 tsp baking powder
HEAT OVEN TO 175oC
- Put the egg whites into a clean mixing bowl and set aside. Put the egg yolks into another, smaller bowl and whisk lightly until homogenous.
- Put the chocolate and 30g butter into a microwave bowl and heat until melted. I find it best to heat chocolate on a medium setting in the microwave. This helps it to melt more evenly and avoid burning the chocolate. Remove after 30sec or 1 minute and mix to assist the melting process. Set aside once melted.
- Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy and the sugar is well dissolved into the butter.
- Add the maple syrup and mix well.
- Add the egg yolks to the butter/sugar mix and beat in until well combined.
- Add the melted chocolate and mix until well combined.
- Sift the dry ingredients together.
- Mix the milk and vanilla essence together.
- Add the sifted dry ingredients alternatively with the milk mix to your batter.
- Mix until combined
- With a clean whisk or beaters, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.
- Fold into your egg whites into your batter. Add a little milk if batter is very stiff. The cake mix should be like a loose pikelet mix. Not runny like a pancake or crepe mix and not thick like a waffle mix.
- Pour or spoon into prepared tins or muffin cases. If you’d like to make a large cake it is better to cook two flatter large cakes, rather than one single large cake that will take longer to cook all the way through and potentially darken the outside edges of the cake making them bitter. Pour half the batter into a greased and lined small/medium sized tin (15cm).
- Put into oven and cook smaller cakes for 20 – 25 mins and large cake for 45 – 50 mins or until your skewer comes out clean. Some cracks may appear on the top of the cake. That is fine.
- Allow to cool before turning out.
- Ice small cakes with a rich chocolate butter icing. For the larger cakes: Trim ONE of the large cakes to make it level and cover with cream or sweeten cream cheese or a rich chocolate butter icing. Sandwich the second large cake on top and cover with rich chocolate butter icing.
Enjoy and banish disappointment to the ends of the earth knowing that only better is to come as another door opens to you to continue your journey. J xx
Flour blend suggestions:
½ cup millet
½ cup buckwheat
1/4 cup chick pea/amaranth
½ cup rice flour
½ cup tapioca starch