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Byron Shire
January 26, 2022

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: The Gift of Experience

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To borrow a Lambie, dealing with disappointment is what makes you ‘An adult’. So that’s a wonderful gift. Who doesn’t want to be a well rounded grown up!

This Christmas I have decided to buy my friends and family experiences. 

Experiences also don’t require the purchasing of ‘stuff’. And you don’t have to wrap the stuff in more useless stuff. I’m really trying to reduce the Christmas stuffing. I’m on what I call a ‘de-stuff’ diet. It’s hard, because I am one of those people who has been addicted to stuff. Experiences, if well chosen, can have a low carbon footprint. They can be stuffless.

So I’ve thought about some of the wonderful experiences I can get my loved ones. I want experiences that make you a more expansive human. Experiences that challenge, that redefine, that leave you changed. 

So, what are the experiences that have transformed me?

Disappointment. This is easy. It’s an empty box. People who don’t deal with disappointment well are dickheads. They throw tantrums. They blame. They say ‘why me?’ Life is going to be disappointing. Face it, your social media induced fantasy life is never going to happen. You need disappointment practise. Imagine being the 56th woman who was supposed to be in the lotto syndicate at the WA Curves gym where the other 55 won $1.5 million each? 55 Women won enough money to change their lives forever. But I reckon the woman who missed out will never be the same again either. All because she couldn’t be fucked parting with $5. 

Disappointment is a gift that always delivers. You don’t have to worry if it’s the right size, or if the person has it already. It’s for everyone. The trick with disappointment is to develop grace. You don’t embark on a revenge quest, you don’t set out to ruin someone, you don’t buy a gun. You accept. To realise that missing out can make you either a bitter person or a better person. To borrow a Lambie, dealing with disappointment is what makes you ‘An adult’. So that’s a wonderful gift. Who doesn’t want to be a well rounded grown up!

I remember the many times I was given disappointment. It was a popular gift in my household. One year mum gave me the giant full colour children’s bible. Another time I came second in a public speaking competition. I hate coming second. Then there was the time, when I was 13, that my 16-year-old apprentice hairdresser cousin chose someone else to be her model for an upcoming hair show. I cried. I so wanted to wear shoulder pads and have a two-tone ’80s crop cut. I remember that burning feeling. The way it consumed me. The fact I couldn’t change anything because I was powerless. I had a fork in the path before me; resentment or acceptance. Revenge wasn’t a choice, I just don’t have the revenge mindset. I learnt early on that acceptance seems hard, but it’s actually simple. 

Now, I am used to missing out. It’s hard to give our kids disappointment, because we remember the pain of when it was given to us. But it’s good to remember that people who don’t experience disappointment become arseholes. And we already have enough arseholes in the world. I am all for a 100 per cent zero emissions target by 2030, but I’d like to achieve zero arseholes as well.

As a parent it’s easy to give your kids disappointment. Tell them you are going to take them to the movies and then forget. Promise a new iphone and then wrap up a plastic Hello Kitty phone in an iphone box. We did that to one of our kids. Fuck we laughed. And that girl, she’s a bloody champ. She can handle shit. We also got her a gift that has stayed with her; we made a great memory. She reckons she will never forget that moment. Neither will the rest of us. Best Xmas ever.

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  1. Our children will no doubt experience plenty of disappointment in life: with friendships, at school, at sport, as human beings during these wild times. So I suggest that instead of intentionally making life more difficult for our kids, we use our relationship with them to model life lessons on how to deal with disappointment in a healthy way (rather than making fun of them or shaming them). To show them that home is a safe space in which all feelings and emotions are valid, and to let them experience that their primary caregivers are present enough to hold space for them to express them.

    And yes, I agree with saying no to useless Xmas stuff.
    Happy Holidays!


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