As I was reflecting on what I wanted to write about for this post, I realized this past month or so held quite a few disappointments. One in particular that was a giant disappointment. A retreat I’d looked forward to for MONTHS turned out to be something I’d have to turn down. Not gonna lie, I cried. Might have gotten a little ragey, too. Threw myself a pity party, even. 

I was trying to find a more accurate adjective than disappointment to talk about the situation, and courtesy of an amazing online thesaurus, I bumped into the phrase “a damp squib.” I’d never heard of this before, but immediately fell in love – essentially it means something that is disappointing because it is not as exciting or effective as expected. Basically, think of a dud firework. You’re all excited to see this beautiful burst of color and hear the loud pops and sizzles, and then, “pfffft…” Nada. 

That’s how this felt. So what was I going to do? 

Well, as I mentioned, I did the ragey thing and the tear thing and the pity party thing, and honestly, those were all truthful reactions that helped me process it. And when I came upon my new favorite phrase, I thought about what happens when we do get those proverbial dud fireworks. I could pack up and head home and focus only on that, or… I could begin to play with what else might be possible. Another firework? Something else entirely? 

In this case, my coach introduced the question, “What would be ideal?” 

I tend to spend a lot of time adjusting to what feels possible or do-able, but I don’t often allow a lot of bandwidth for exploring what actually might be truly ideal instead. In this case, my damp squib of a situation has turned into an opportunity to reimagine what a retreat for myself might look like. It also gave me the opportunity to get really clear on what exactly it was that I wanted out of the experience, and now I’m starting to come up with some creative ways to still get to some of those elements, even if it won’t look anything like what my original plan was! Part of me feels some of the “Oof, that’s hard” in that, and part of me also is super excited to see what I end up coming up with in the end. 

Not every situation is going to be fully functional fireworks, so when you do bump into that inevitable damp squib of a situation, try these questions to help you figure out how you want to move forward: 

  • What would be ideal instead? 
  • What else is possible because this didn’t work out? 
  • What can I learn about myself here? 
  • Who do I want to be as I navigate this? 

I’d still prefer my original plan, but in the event of this damp squib, I’m starting to explore some alternatives. It’s entirely possible I might end up with the grand finale of fireworks instead. 

- Nicole



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