Expecting More From Myself

I often find that expectations are the shortest path to disappointment.

I attended an event last week with very specific expectations in mind – where the venue would be, who would be there and why, what we would do, how the presenter would lead the group… Except that every expectation I had turned out to be completely off the mark. Nothing happened the way I imagined it would. I was so out of place that it would have been excruciatingly uncomfortable had it not been so funny. All I could do was let go, sit back and observe, and glean the most I could from what was actually happening around me (none of which was bad, by the way). In the end, the very useful information I had come for was still presented and the connection I had hoped to make was made. I went home feeling it had been very much worth attending even though it meant feeling like such a fish out of water for a couple hours.

Here’s the thing, though: I almost left as soon as I arrived. There was a moment when I realized I had a choice between discomfort or amusement, abandonment or persistence, pessimism or optimism. The funny thing about pessimism is the confident way it predicts the future and assumes failure: leave now, you know there is nothing good for you here. Optimism requires an open-mindedness, a willingness to let go of assumptions and expectations and adapt: okay, so this isn’t going according to plan, but let’s see what you can make of it. Despite my initial misgivings about the event, I had to be open to the possibility that it could come out right in a way I could not foresee. If I wanted the evening to be a success, I couldn’t assume that because my expectations of the particulars turned out to be so inaccurate that the outcome would be equally disappointing. The outcome – which relied on my behavior and interactions – was still within my control.

So I made myself go back inside (twice). I stayed. I followed through. I got what I went for. I just had to expect less from the event and more from myself.

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