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The Great Disappointment of 2017

Have you ever experienced a disappointment that rocked your world?

There are pivotal moments in my life, where I can identify times where my life was changed because of disappointment. I didn’t necessarily let it define me, but the more I experience it, the better I can react to it.

2017 has been full of disappointments, most from being let down by people in one way or another. And I can fully admit, I have most likely let others down as well.

For the last year, I’ve been working on my master’s degree. There have been some disappointing classes, but I knew at the end of it, I would write a thesis and have something to be proud of–not just that I completed some classes.

On Monday of last week, I found out I wouldn’t actually be writing a thesis. For the past 8 weeks, I had taken a class called Research Design, which was to prepare me for writing at least 100 pages for a thesis. It was hard to narrow down to a topic, do a full literature review, figure out the theory I would use and come up with the methodology in which I would go about my research, and write a 35-page proposal, which was the foundation of writing the thesis. I had done some preliminary work of reaching out to some of the people I was planning on interviewing, and done a lot of planning for how my next 8 weeks of completing a thesis would look like. I woke up from an accidental nap Monday evening to the following email:

“…You may have been told that you’re expected to write close to a hundred pages for the thesis—not so in our SCDC graduate programs, and not so in this course…For this course, a master’s thesis or project paper serves as a cumulative paper reflecting the skills, knowledge and analytical abilities you’ve gained during your program…you produce a final thesis/project paper, emphasizing an original insight followed by a discussion of the application and meaning of that insight for the topic you’ve chosen.”

What in the [insert colorful language here] ?

I quickly emailed my professor asking for clarification on the email. And I waited for 5 days to get a response. All the while, fuming about my recent discovery. Everyone I spoke to said the same thing, “But that’s a good thing, right?” To which I would reply that it wasn’t and would go on about how pissed I was.

I finally received an email response from my professor, explaining why they had chosen to change their approach. It’s reasonable and they made the decision to give the students a better experience. I started to calm down, but I was still able to admit how disappointed I was (and how I still am, let’s be real).

2017, has been an interesting year. There’s been a lot of disappointments I’ve experienced–met a guy and thought it would turn into something, but then I was essentially ghosted, work projects that have fallen through, friendships that have changed, the list goes on.

The Psalms are always great to read through when you’re feeling everything in life. I was talking with a friend about the life transitions we’ve been experiencing over the last few years and how grieving is a big part of that. I realized how I hadn’t fully grieved some of these disappointments or even acknowledged my feelings about such things. I came across Psalm 34 the other day, which seemed to be somewhat perfect for what I was feeling.

Starting in verse 17, David writes, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.”

I continue to learn that people and circumstances will disappoint you, it’s what you do with that disappointment that speaks to your character. Am I still incredibly disappointed that I won’t get the opportunity to publish a graduate thesis? Most definitely! But instead of focusing on the disappointment, I’m going to focus that energy into being productive. Now, I have a lot more time I can put back into the things I want to, like cooking meals, exercising, hanging out with friends and being more involved at church.

As I spend the next 7 weeks working on my final extended paper that will look nothing like I expected, I would like to acknowledge how blessed I have been throughout my time as a grad student and the encouragement I received from so many people. I’ve never felt so supported in my life, so I thank you–you know who you are.


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