Goodbye Expectations

I come from a long line of dreamers.

The sad thing is that I’ve been taught that dreams live separate from reality.

For twenty-six years now, I thought that there were two distinct lands for things in this life; one for dreams and one for realities, one where everything is allowed and one that requires you to do the right thing. Like oil and water, these two lands, and everything pertaining to each, don’t mix.

I recently learned that this separation of things is wrong. In fact, the realization is even greater than that; I am the impermeable membrane. Worded differently, it would amount to this: I am my own limitation. I am the thing I have to overcome.

Life is made of moments and these moments have different characteristics. Some moments are light, others are heavy; some moments are defining and others are weightless; some moments are breezes and others are sound barriers. The key is knowing which is which.

It’s easy to get overcome by fear and avoid life. You make up excuses, you find reasons to back out or turn around. We’re all master debaters when something life-changing comes our way. We can talk ourselves out of anything.

Deep down you know ‘though. Deep down you can’t cheat yourself. Deep down there’s a voice that tries to get your attention. Sometimes, the whole universe conspires with it and throws clues your way. If you’re really good at denial, you can deceive yourself and you can find reasonable cause for all these things. You become the most rational person on earth -mind over heart- and you will succeed in doing the ‘right’ thing, the unemotional one, the best choice down the line. But as far as right goes… Sometimes the ‘right’ choice is the wrong one. Sometimes, the best choice is the one that makes the least logical sense. Except it’s the scarier one. It involves a loss of control, a surrender to life’s events, to let go of plans… It feels wrong. It feels counter-intuitive. It feels downright stupid. Usually, it feels that way because of all the expectations we’ve stacked over the years, all the ‘learnings’ we’ve accumulated, all the things we think we want or feel we’re supposed to.

As it goes, expectation means the following:


a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
“reality had not lived up to expectations”
a belief that someone will or should achieve something.
“students had high expectations for their future”
synonyms: suppositionassumptionpresumptionconjecturesurmisecalculation,predictionhope

“her expectations were unrealistic”
one’s prospects of inheritance.
another term for expected value.

That’s all it is; a vision we have of a future that is unrealized and may never happen. A value for things that may not become. Basically, the price of dreams we prefer to imagine, because the end result can only be two things; that we do not get what we want and that our expectations turn into bitter frustrated hopes, or that we do get what we want, but realize it’s either not as good as we thought it would be or perhaps that it’s not actually what we wanted at all. Expectations make up a land of chimera that don’t mix with reality. Expectation is, by definition, the mother of all disappointments.

And that’s not even mentioning what happens when you concern yourself with other people’s expectations…

The point is, I have lived a life of expectation. It wasn’t satisfying. It filled me with fear and anxiety wherever the future was concerned. I spent so much time and energy being concerned by my expectations of how things should be, I let the present pass me by; I was too busy trying to control everything, building a distant future in some other place and time… The irony was it was a waste of time; I thought I was saving it, but in fact, all I was doing was throwing away precious minutes worrying and planning, but not moving forward.

Life doesn’t care for your plans. In fact, it doesn’t even have that kind of directionality. You’re too tiny a creature in the context of it all. Life just… happens. And life keeps going without you while you’re frozen in place by fear and expectations.

I don’t want to live in the world I made up. I don’t want to be angry with others and myself. I don’t want to keep expecting for my life to happen. I want to be in the now. I want to stop wanting for things that don’t matter. I want to get my priorities straight. I want to be happy with what I have.

So goodbye (and good riddance, sorry) expectations. I’m done with you (and hopefully better for it).

“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn’t have the courage to say “yes” to life?”
― Paulo CoelhoEleven Minutes
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