‘Coffee/Tea with David’ the message said. ‘Yay! I hope he’s dope and recognizes the dopeness in you’ was my response. ‘No expectations’ she said. That’s bullshit! was my final deliberation four days later as I recalled the conversation. No assumptions, no expectations, that’s a thing people say when they want to avoid disappointment and its more intense older brother; suffering.
If we’re honest with ourselves, the entire human experience is built around expectations and assumptions. Fear is often the result of what happens when we don’t have them. This is the reason why a significant portion of the population is afraid of death. (They don’t know what to expect).
Think about it. We base the majority of our lives on previous experience. When we wake up in the morning, we expect to open our eyes. When we put the key in the ignition and turn it forward, we expect the car to start. When you sit in a chair you expect it to hold your weight. We wouldn’t even have comedy if not for expectations and assumptions. It is only when these things are turned on their head that it illicits the laughter response.
We go into each day only armed with what we have learned up until that point. From there we proceed accordingly. It takes conscious effort to open ourselves and not let our previous experience color our expectations, especially if that previous experience has been negative. For some reason, negative experiences digs its heals into the grooves of our brain and often sticks with us in new situations.
I guess what I’m saying is that it is human and normal to have expectations, despite what our more highly evolved friends might say. In fact, it might even be helpful, that instead of pretending that we don’t have them, we should in fact embrace them. We should identify our expectations and assumptions in order to challenge and combat them. We should work actively to make ourselves comfortable with the fact that they may not be reached.
I have found myself in the last few weeks being ashamed of my hopes and expectations. And yet somehow still drowning in disappointment. This disappointment brought further shame. I suppose, I’m writing this for myself and others to give permission.
I think the key might be to avoid getting stuck in them. To allow your hearts and minds to be flexible. And in the times when you find yourself in disappointment to accept it. I think we get stuck when entitlement creeps in.
When we create a narrative of what’s ‘suppose to’ happen or how thing ‘should be’. But this is life. We are writing our story from day to day and absolutely nothing is promised. Not even the seat you are sitting in at this moment (the bottom could give away at any moment). But this should not be a source of fear or paranoia. This should be empowering. To enjoy the wins and embrace the loses. Maybe even give you the opportunity to laugh at yourself a little bit. Find the joy in the unexpected and use it as an opportunity to pivot into something new and innovative.