Thursday, July 12, 2012

Number One

Certainly, expectations are a crucial factor in life. Whether it is what we await from the film we are about to watch or that special holiday we had been planning for ages; on a small or larger scale, we all have them and what happens deep inside til the defining moment is a universal feeling. When it comes to having expectations, the thrill manifests itself in different forms as various body parts react to it: the eyes sparkle, the heart is racing, the stomach cannot stop rumbling and/or there is uncontrollable tingling in our legs. Sometimes, we are so excited that even falling asleep becomes a difficult option. Matter-of-factly, looking forward to something can have gargantuan consequences on the body as well as the psyche.

Most times, the expectations we have from things, events or people that are of great importance to us are extremely high. We cannot wait to test the new Apple product and consequently, we are even willing to queue all night long in front of the store to be the first to buy it. It is going to be the best gadget ever! Our favorite band is in town and we finally got the opportunity to see them live. It is going to be the best concert ever! We have been organizing the fairy tale wedding for months and the big day has come. It is going to be the best day ever! Indeed, we have a subliminal tendency to set the bar way above average, in particular when the subject matter or person is close to our heart: what we envision is magic, what we thrive on is perfection, the result has to mean something and every second of it be worth remembering - even documenting with a status update, pictures or a journal entry. In this regard, many assume that having great(er) expectations can have a debilitating effect because what we will receive can never quite live up to what we had in mind and more often than not, we end up somewhat disappointed. Even more so when things do not go according to plan at all. In addition, it is argued that having no expectations at all is a better way of approaching life because it leaves a spot for surprises - the best ones.

However, the proverbial "expect the unexpected" not only seems like an impossible task [the phrase itself points out to expecting something - even if it is the unexpected]; but lowering one's standards and expectations is irrevocably a mistake. Sure, we can be slightly deceived when what was expected does not come close to the specific images that were running wild in our imagination; but the chance to have our expectations met - and especially exceeded - is far more satisfactory when we had high hopes to begin with. Even more so when we worked so hard to get to that point and feel like we deserve an award. For starters, does "it is so much better than what I imagined" sound eerily familiar? Hence, isn't that one of the most empowering feelings one can ever possess?

Expectations are conjugated in the future tense and unless we time travel, it is of course inconceivable to predict or assure any of it. But the thing is, no matter what our mindset is from the start i.e. having that high level of expectations or not, the most essential thing people tend to forget is that to finally get to live it, ultimately, will still be a foreign experience. That is the best thing about it: expecting, but still not knowing. Those with highly imaginative minds will not be kept from having their voice raise an octave higher; and lowering or having no expectations whatsoever does not make the X factor more intense or more prominent. Contrary to common knowledge, one who is easily disappointed did not necessarily have the highest of expectations and got shut down, but it is perhaps because s/he is just really keen on attaining that surprise factor, being blown away, being swept off his/her feet. In effect, this does not have much to do with what one had in mind... or not. That is the root of unreasonable deception. Those who "expect the unexpected" actually expect nothing less than the element of surprise, in the process forgetting that the future itself will still, always come as a surprise - no matter how clearly or blurry we envisioned it.  

Immediately, one can see that bringing one's expectations down a notch is not necessarily a better choice of approaching life since having a certain level of expectations never seemed to have deprived one from the WOW factor. But moreover, having high hopes i.e. having more or less a clear idea of the future is immaculately healthy. It shapes what we really look for or how we think things are supposed to be. If we are ready to define what our goals for the future are and expect that much from ourselves, someone or an event; believe that it is possible to get exactly what we want and/or deserve. Once more, the future equals being completely unpredictable and true to form, what we will receive (or not) may be different - but that should not promptly lead to changing the bar, lowering one's standards, settling. That is the root of unreasonable deception and people are likely to go that way when things do not happen right away. But one must simply learn limitations and take - give oneself - the time and possibilities to consider other options to get to the "same, same but different" final point. It is plausible -- what we put out there is what life is going to give back. Setting the bar high in life will eventually, unquestionably mold the path we know in our heart we are meant to pursue. Having high expectations is not only aiming for excellence, but more than anything, it is an attitude, a way of approaching things - and in the end, we must persist on being positive because that outlook will attract exactly what we are searching for - even better, more than often, we will get better than what we imagined. Conclusively, not having any sort of expectations means that one is willing to answer to... quite frankly, anything. And don't we want more out of life? 

The perquisite of having expectations is a universal feeling that we cannot dismiss - like anxiety or happiness. And like any intense sentiment, it is also very important to learn how to deal or live with it. Truth be told, we must not be so hard on ourselves when the universe throws curve balls at us and what we awaited is simply flushed down the drain. I have said it before and I will keep on saying it, the beautiful -- and also unnerving-- thing about the future is that we just cannot know until it occurs. But this fear of disappointment is not good enough a reason to ever lower one's standards and expectations. It is food to the soul to have them: we must think of  expectations as a prescription of what we strive for in life. In the end, we must believe -- we must know in our dearest of hearts -- that it is feasible to be magnets to what we desire, what we work for, what we deserve: we can aim for Number One... and we shall expect to get it. Let us just not forget to enjoy and take it all in when the expected becomes ours