How Disappointment can be a Good Thing

From the moment our feet (or shall I say our wandering soles) hit U.S. soil after nearly a year of travel, the questions flowed in.

What’s next for you guys? Are you settling down? Moving overseas again? WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

The only answer we could muster up was a hesitant, “We’re still trying to figure it all out.”

And that was the truth.

If you were one of the question-askers, we’re sorry it took us this long to give you a real answer, but we honestly really didn’t know.

That’s part of the excitement of this unconventional journey we’ve chosen to follow the past few years. Not knowing where or what the next year will bring us is thrilling, and the endless stream of opportunities is what gets our hearts pumping and our minds dreaming.

But it’s not happy-go-lucky bliss all of the time. It can be scary, too. There have been moments of doubt and uncertainty.

And there has been disappointment. Big disappointment.

Okay, story time…

Last spring we got a job offer to work in France to spend the winter working at a luxury chalet in the Alps. We were beyond excited for this opportunity and indulged in perhaps just a few too many daydreams about hosting vacationers, cooking them 3-course meals and pouring wine while they soaked in the hot tub. Heavenly, huh?

We tried to keep it pretty quiet, but we couldn’t help ourselves from telling friends and family about the plans that were making us so giddy.

So when our visa was denied* by the French government we were, frankly, heartbroken. And then we had to go through the whole disappointing story with everyone we’d already told about this job. It was still raw and each time we retold our tale, it stung. We are no strangers to disappointment, but that didn't lessen the blow. 

We started to doubt ourselves and wonder if our dreams were too big. Too impractical. Too unconventional.

Sometimes disappointment can make you feel like you should lower your expectations so you won’t be disappointed when plans don’t work out. I considered scratching out all those wild, crazy, impractical dreams of mine and writing new ones... but it just didn’t feel right.

Telling yourself to aim for dreams that are less than you’re capable of is stifling. It stunts growth and dulls happiness. True, there won’t be as much room for disappointment, but there is also less room for joy.

Sure, having high expectations and big dreams might mean I’ll face big disappointment. But it also means I’m not living life in black and white when I only dream in color. I’m honoring my ambitions – no matter how eccentric they may be – and learning to coexist with joy and disappointment. 

So I got into “coaching mode” and told myself that disappointment is part of life and dealing with it will shape me, strengthen me and build character.

And I reminded myself that sometimes there is a reason for our disappointment.

Gosh, I sound like a mother telling her child that they didn’t get make it onto the varsity soccer team for a reason. And that’s not exactly what I mean.

I think that living in France would have been incredible. I think Ben and I would have been good at our jobs and we would have met great people. And there really might not be a “reason” we aren’t boarding a cross-Atlantic flight in a couple days.

But disappointment can strip down all of the doubts clouding your vision and show you exactly what you want. When our visas were rejected, we realized that we really did want to spend winter in the snow. We realized that we aren’t ready to settle down in the traditional buy-a-house type of way.

So we looked disappointment right in the eyes and said, “You’re not going to get the best of me.” We picked ourselves up and brushed off the tears (metaphorical and literal) and started job searching.

How Disappointment can be good travel blog

And then we told ourselves we wouldn’t divulge our next wanderings until it was solidly in place. Job offered. Job accepted. Tickets booked.

So here we are. Everything is in place and we’re ready to share our plans. While we’re still disappointed that our dreams of soaking in a hut tub in the French Alps won’t be coming true this winter, we are incredibly excited for the opportunity that shaped up.

Our search for winter jobs led us to multiple offers around the country. After a grueling week of making multiple pros and con lists, calculating expenses and having a couple wine-fueled late-night discussions, our minds (and hearts) were made up.

We narrowed our options down and chose to spend the next five months in the Pacific Northwest – or the PNW, as it’s called by all the cool people who live there (we gotta start getting the lingo down). We’ll be living in the cute Bavarian town of Leavenworth, Washington, and we’ll be working for the nearby ski resort, Steven’s Pass. (More on our jobs later!)

Perhaps in time we’ll realize there is a reason France didn’t work out. Maybe it’s someone we’ll meet in Washington, or maybe these jobs will lead to new opportunities.

And maybe we won’t ever feel that there was a “reason” our visa was rejected. This is something only time can tell us and only an open mind can discover.

But for now, we’ve accepted the disappointment. And we have people in our lives who’ve shown us perspective and reminded us that while it may not feel like it, this disappointment is surely a small and insignificant one in the big picture of life. Perhaps learning from this disappointment will prepare us for obstacles that we’ll face in time.

So here we are, packing up all our winter clothes into our cute new (used) car, and planning out a cross-country road trip. And I’ve gotta tell you, we are excited to settle down for a bit.

I saw that eye roll.

Yes, I know that working on the ski slopes isn’t the traditional way of “settling down,” but it will certainly feel like it to us after being out of the U.S. (on and off) for nearly 3 years and constantly being on the move.

We’ve had the task of buying a car, getting U.S. phone numbers again and signing an apartment lease. (It sounds like normal stuff, but these are big commitments for us, guys!) We’re eager to have a place to call our own – even if it’s just for 5 months. We’re (weirdly) excited to have a routine again. We’re looking forward to making new friends and living in a place we’ve been itching to explore for years.

So there you have it: a long-awaited answer to those questions of what’s next.

Our updates will look a little different than our travels in Southeast Asia last year at this time, but we’re getting excited to share our PNW wanderings (see, I’m getting the hang of the lingo!). We’ll show you the slopes and the cozy mountain towns of Washington this winter. (Plus, we’ll be doing some catch-up on our round-the-world trip we took this past year. Expect lots more on that, too!)

We hope to share this journey with you through pictures and stories, and if you’re in the Leavenworth area, we’d love to meet you on the mountain or grab a beer!


*Why was our French visa denied? Our visa was denied because the unemployment rate in France is currently very high, and they are reluctant to give positions to foreigners. Also, being American citizens made the process exponentially more difficult since citizens of the EU or Commonwealth countries (such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand) are able to apply for EU jobs on a working visa basis, while Americans have no such program with France.