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Opinion

Expectations may ruin the outcome of events

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March 12, 2008

Do you remember the process you went through to go to college? I’m not talking about filling out applications and going on college visits; I’m talking about mental thought process.

Did you always know you were going to go to college? Did the thought of college shine upon you one day during high school biology class? Do you remember how it came to be that you had a desire to continue education? Or was it just expected?

And when you arrived at college, what was it like? How is this different from what you thought it would be?

Expectations.  Everyone has them for some reason or another, but not everyone can say where they came from. 

When I was little (about three) I really wanted a horse. Every day I pictured what the first moment with my new horse would be like. He would be tall and beautiful and have a cool name, like Mr. Mystique.

I would get him on my twelfth birthday, assuming I had enough money (there was no way my horse-loathing father would buy me a pony). So I saved up my dish-washing and cow-milking earnings and dreamed of the day I would pick up Mr. Mystique.

At 12-and-a-half, I somehow landed with a crazy, stubborn mare named Stormy with disproportionably large ears and a really ugly whinny.

Was I let down? Maybe a little, but dear lord, I finally had my horse after nine years of non-stop dreaming. But that was little-kid dreams-I-want-balloons-at-my-birthday-party dreams.

Growing up, there were bigger things to think about: prom (whether you wanted to go or not), your future boyfriend, college life, spring break, internships, graduating, your first job, getting engaged, getting married, being married, your second job and the list goes on.

How was prom? Was it what you expected? How was your first semester at school? Was it what you thought it would be?  It probably wasn’t, in at least one way or another.  But how did you arrive with those expectations in the first place?

Somehow a person is convinced that an event will turn out a certain way, whether it’s parents that implant an idea into you, older siblings or friends or what you see on television shows and movies.

One of my friends got married last summer. When she got engaged, she was naturally happy, but slightly disappointed. He didn’t get her the ring she’d wanted. He didn’t get down on one knee (he asked her in his truck) and the sun had already set.

And although she was crazy-in-love-happy … she was kind of disappointed. She had felt like those expectations had kind of kicked her in the face.

Months that led up to the wedding were not prime-time, either. And although her wedding was fun, she thought it could have been better. Being a veterinary technician isn’t fun anymore, either. I won’t get into her marriage, because while everyone will be telling her “it’ll get better,” I’m just praying that she’ll stop thinking so much.

She’s somehow built up these expectations of how life will be and is consistently getting let down. She’s not one of those selfish girls; she’s just the product of her own expectations.

What makes a person drop all the expectations and just go with it? Does he or she just keep getting let down by his or her hopes enough to stop thinking about the future all together?

We’ve all heard “just do your best” from parents, professors and whomever else. But they leave off the end of the phrase. It should be “just do your best for today.” 

Maybe you have a headache and you don’t think you can finish everything today. Just do what you can, and don’t worry about it. We’re not going to have amazing days all the time. It’s simply not realistic.

If you do your best today, there’s nothing else you can do. After you’ve lived for a while (maybe now’s a good time, maybe it’ll be in five years), you’ll realize that the intangible things in life are what matter most-not what your next car will be like or how the next party will go or what that class will be like or what you’ll do on your next date.

Expectations begin to create the world around us. Do you want this world to be like those reality television shows or, ugh, soap operas?

Do you honestly think it’ll happen? Or is that just what you’ll be expecting?

Abby Maliszewski is a student at UW-River Falls.