Epilogue to the last scatterthought

A friend asked me about yesterday’s scatterthought, questioning the apparent lack of excitement or hope I express in saying that I don’t care whether I get into the play or not.

“You must want to get into the show on some level if you auditioned.”

It’s one of those things. If I get into something then I’ll do it and enjoy it, but I generally don’t get excited about something until it happens.

As I’ve written before on Scatterthought, I’ve been burned a few times in the long distant past. Twice in high school, my friends convinced me that I was going to receive awards at school, and when I didn’t then it sucked. The people who did receive the awards were totally deserving, so I’ve no ill will. But the disappointment is something I still feel, more than a decade later.

And that’s the thing–it’s not logical to get excited and hopeful when the odds are always greater that you won’t be awarded something. If I hadn’t gotten my hopes up, then I wouldn’t have felt a sense of loss.

In this case, let’s assume that approximately 20 guys auditioned for four roles. If so, I’ve no reason to believe that I’ll get in. Just makes more sense.

Or there are the people who get all excited about a big lottery and start planning what they’ll do with the winnings. They’re setting themselves up for disappointment, which is why many have taken to calling lotteries the “idiot tax”. Whereas I’ll buy a ticket, but I expect nothing to come of it.

I guess I get excited about things I can control, and not about things that are beyond my influence.

I know, I know. This sounds defeatist or pessimistic or whatever. It sounds like I’m limiting my emotional experience. But I disagree. You’re only limiting yourself if you don’t ever allow yourself to experience something. Whereas I’ve experienced the joy of hope and the pain of disappointment. And as great as one is, I don’t think it’s worth the negativity of the other.

I’m not limiting my emotional experience…I’m just not letting my emotions control me.

Besides, I’m only capable of doing this in situations I can recognize. And even then, sometimes I’ll still get swept up in the moment.

I’m not a robot, and I’m not suggesting that my way of seeing this topic is better than anyone else’s. We’ve all got to do what works for ourselves. Some people will take the hope and use that to drive them forward in life. They’ll accept the potential for disappointment so that they can take on greater risks and move the earth.

Others will feel the full weight of disappointment on numerous occasions, and they’ll use that as motivation to push themselves harder and become great successes.

I’ll split the difference.

What will you do?



  1. I tend to believe that it’s really your thoughts on the subject that really count. If you think you’re going to lose, then you most likely are… On the other hand, if you think you at least stand a chance, then you’re liable to try harder and do a better job. In my mind, not allowing yourself to feel the pain of disappointment is akin to not trying at all and giving in to what is for the most part a fear of failure. You have to ask yourself, if there’s no emotional stake in doing it, then why do it at all? In a sense, I agree with your friend, you must want the part on some level, otherwise you wouldn’t bother trying, because it would then just be a waste of time.

    As for the lottery, since there’s no way for you to influence the outcome, I agree that it’s silly to get your hopes up, even though I know I have in the past. The difference in this case, is that, by your performance in the audition, you have control over how well or how poorly you do. Granted the final decision is still up to someone else, but you do have the power to sway them to your court, if you come across as really deserving the part. The mind is definately a powerful tool, but it often works against us, if we let it….

  2. I think he’d rather have the part than not, but he’s trying to say that it won’t hurt him if he doesn’t. Kind of a feeling like “it’s not the end of the world”. It certainly goes with mathematical logic to think that you have a lower chance of getting in than not getting in, but I’m sure he tried as hard as he could.

  3. I agree with Alvin’s comment. I really do not think that Russ has set himself up to lose or is being negative in this instance. I also believe that he wants the part, but won’t be horribly devestated if it is awarded to someone else because he has not set himself up for disappointment.

    Although this might not be the case for all people, but I find that being too positive and hopeful for something you really want can backfire. I find the more pressure and high expectations I put on myself for a major job interview, exam, etc., the more I set myself up to screw-up (then go home and have a good cry to the sound of tiny violins). If I can take a step back, try my best, and not put my expectations or hope in overdrive, I tend to excel and meet success.

  4. The world would not be a very happy place if it were not for “hope”. When hope is gone, I consider all else to be lost.

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