Teaching bottom set students, there is a sense of the disappointment felt by those who feel themselves condemned to forever be also-rans.
Perhaps the persistent sense of feeling disappointed for those suffering disappointment has a clinical name. If it hasn’t, it should have. Disappointment has the capacity to darkly overshadow even happy moments and can sometimes induce tears.
The sense of disappointment first began to manifest itself at football matches.
Twenty years ago, a League of Ireland team I followed defeated another team by six goals to nil. Far from this being a cause for jubilation, there was a feeling of disappoint for the losers and almost a sense of embarrassment at the scoreline.
The disappointment was even greater at a boys team from the parish that had gone to play a soccer match. The boys won 14-0 and the coach was very pleased.
The coach of the boys’ team was taken taken aback when i asked him, “What did that achieve?” and went on to suggest to him that he should have swapped the players around at half-time and made a match of it.
Starting with soccer, the sense of disappointment seemed to seep outwards into other spheres of life.
There was disappointment at things that were objectively disappointing such as when the years of recession after the 2008 crash brought the collapse of countless small businesses. There were streets where one could stand and look at rows of closed shops and have a palpable sense of the pain that must have been felt by those whose hopes and aspirations had gone, along with their savings.
There was disappointment at things where the sense of disappointment was more subjective, such as the moments each August when the newspapers printed photographs of bright young people who had achieved great results in their Leaving Certificate exams and the thoughts turned to those whose marks had fallen short of their dreams, and those for whom the entire process offered only a sense of being on the outside.
Then there were the moments when perhaps the disappointment that was being felt owed more to a projection of thoughts onto others than any feeling on their part, such as those post-Christmas times when some children told of all the things they had received and others just sat in silence.
Perhaps there is a clinical term, but if there is, it doesn’t change reality, or the perception of reality.