I’ve been thinking a lot about disappointment lately.
On a personal level, the past few weeks have been full of life changes I wasn’t expecting. At times, it’s felt like a constant string of discouraging news.
Then, since the morning after the Oscars, I’ve seen countless posts about how disappointed Angela Bassett looked when she lost the Best Supporting Actress award to Jamie Lee Curtis. And how, as an actress, she should’ve done a better job hiding that disappointment.
A few posts even referred to her as a “sore loser.”
Cue my annoyance…and a giant eye roll.
Bassett has spent almost four decades building a prestigious career in entertainment. She’s a powerhouse actress who has brought so many memorable characters to life, like Bernie in “Waiting to Exhale,” Betty Shabazz in “Malcolm X,” Stella in “How Stella Got her Groove Back,” Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do with It” (which earned her her first Oscar nomination), and Queen Ramonda in the “Black Panther” franchise.
It was her role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” that earned her her second Oscar nomination this year, and there was talk that due to her Golden Globe and Critics Choice Award wins that she was favored to win on Oscar night.
So it’s understandable that she would feel disappointed about not winning.
It’s a human reaction. A human emotion. And I think that’s why it made some people uncomfortable—even angry.
We don’t know how to respond when people feel all their feelings on the outside, particularly when those feelings have historically been viewed as negative or shameful. We’ve spent so much time convincing ourselves that life should be “positive vibes only” that we seem to get personally offended when someone has an honest reaction to a genuinely upsetting situation.
But our disappointment deserves as much love and respect as every other emotion we feel.
Our disappointment means that we cared. That we hoped for something. That we were invested. That we chose to give a f*ck, even when it would’ve been easier to act like we didn’t.
We’ve all lost in life. We’ve all had dreams we’ve watched die. We’ve all had to let go of something we wanted. We’ve all heard news that broke our hearts. We’ve all had to accept that life was going to look different than we anticipated.
And in those moments, no one shows up to write a perfectly scripted response or direct our reactions in a way that makes others comfortable.
All we can do is connect to how we feel—and then give ourselves permission to move forward in a way that feels authentic to us.
This is exactly what I’ve been trying to do these past few weeks. I’ve cried when I’ve needed to. I’ve been pissed at the world. I’ve bounced between total acceptance and simmering-under-the-surface rage. I’ve convinced myself that everything will be okay. I’ve rejected the idea of positivity when it hasn’t felt true in my bones. And I’ve sunk deep into my disappointment.
So I applaud Angela Bassett for doing in real life what we’ve come to expect from her in her movie roles: being emotionally honest. She didn’t force herself to clap or plaster on a fake smile or pretend that she wasn’t hurt simply because there were cameras around.
She gave her feelings the respect and love they deserved.
Angela Bassett’s reaction to Jamie Lee Curtis’ name being called…you can tell how much that Oscar would have meant to her. she is, was, and always will be incredible. I better see her on that stage SOON pic.twitter.com/oHDfuDUksG
— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) March 13, 2023
And by expressing her disappointment honestly, respectfully, and without apology—and in such a public forum—she gave us all permission to feel what we feel (minus the international stage and attention). And to give ourselves the grace we need when those feelings are uncomfortable, for us or for others.
That alone is award-worthy.