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Disappointment saved my Life

Pallavi Agarwal


We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose finite hope — Martin Luther King Jr.

I looked up from the computer screen and saw disappointment in my mom’s eyes. My results made sure I wasn’t getting into my dream university. Although the dream was mine, it was equally hers.

I gave it my best shot. I had done all the right things. Studied the best I could, enrolled in extra classes to get tips and tricks for the test, sacrificed Saturday nights for test prep. Yet, despite the mock test scores, futile percentile ranges, innumerable extra curriculars, and false hopes from my peers, I still did not get through. I was disappointed. There must have been a mistake.

But no matter how many times I looked at the result in secret, it did not change. And no matter how many times mom said, “it was gonna be okay” I knew she was disappointed as was I. The reassurance from neighbors/relatives/well-wishers suggesting XYZ did not get into that college either or there’s always a good reason for what happens, the sting of rejection hurt.

In that moment, it felt like the end.

What could I do next? How would I talk to friends who did well and were on their way to success. I couldn’t seem to figure a way out of that moment.

But here’s the thing, this moment of disappointment wasn’t me. It didn’t define me. It actually opened me to a new world of exploration (stay with me), but I didn’t know it then until later.

What I Didn’t know then:

  • Education empowered me, but did not define me
  • I could be happy without the dream university
  • Dream University tag was always a “good to have” feature not a “need to have” (I am a product manager now, if the word feature doesn’t already tell you that)
  • World gave a rat’s ass about my % or GPA
  • Life is so much more than a test result
  • The disappointment was going to save my life!

Our brain is a sadist and holds on to life’s most difficult moments for as long as possible and will replay those for you without even clicking Play (just knows).