Procedurally, the date went well, but that might be the best that could be said of it. As the evening progressed, I came to realize that we were very different people who had come from, and were headed towards, very different places. I would never find out if I was as vastly different from her expectation of me as she was from mine.
As I lay awake that night, I was gripped by feelings that were then hard to fathom. I was grieving for a relationship that could never be. I was disappointed, not really by her, but by how our differences had so soon proved irreconcilable. And I was disappointed in myself for having allowed myself to foster attraction not to the person, but to the idea of a person, which I was coming to realize was a fool’s game. This melange took physical residence in my heart while I awaited sleep’s fleeting respite.
I’ve since come to see that events like these are important in a person’s development, as they prepare us to work through life’s daily disappointments. They inform our weltschmerz; they gird us with a healthy skepticism; they prepare in us a (sometimes cynical) humor that buoys us against the riptide that could so easily pull us under. But, apparently, they don’t completely immunize us, as even jaded old me can be surprised by the depth of disillusionment I can still feel.
Q: In your life in the academy, have you ever been unsettled by your disappointment or disillusionment? What was it that brought this about, and how deep was your reaction? Anything from “is that all there is?” through “the emperor wears no clothes!” to cardiac arrhythmias or outright emesis will do.