Expectation is the root of all heartache.
Do we even know who, if anyone, said that? Most attribute it to William Shakespeare, which obviously makes it automatically profound, but it was probably Marilyn Monroe. Or Bob Marley. Any one of those insightful sonofaguns. Either way, I think it’s in the top 10 most cliche pieces of advice I’ve ever received. And while it resonates in a really doom way, I don’t think that expectation is what leads us to disappointment. Rather, I don’t think disappointment is a direct product of expecting. Because that’s not what we’re doing when we get our hopes up; Expecting is an anxiety driven need to predict. Hoping for something is not expecting.
I think that often times, hope and wishing is the romantic in us that says “It should be like this. This is how it’s supposed to be.” But something I’ve learned (without question the hard way) is that supposed to be isn’t real. There is no such thing. The only consistency that we found ‘supposed to be’ on is what we’ve assumed to be the most ideal. What works for us in the moment. But nothing is ever certain, and life rarely plays out the way we thought it would. Half of the time, we’ve never even experienced the supposed to be’s that our hearts desire. So how do we know? We can’t. And that’s where disappointment burns hot.
In all of this “revelation”, my solution is not to bury the flames with realism and neglect of our romantic human nature. Instead, I put my faith in God’s will. It is no less romantic to trust that an incredible fate is constantly being determined by something so much greater. His will is the only supposed to be. And in that leap of faith, disappointment is far more likely smothered.
“It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays …”
It seems that the future is, above all other points in time, the most difficult to wrap our heads around. It is the most terrifying. And why shouldn’t it be? It is a metaphorical blackness. A tunnel with unforeseeable light at the end. Sometimes the future is in fact the light, and sometimes it’s never ending darkness.
A future can mean years down the road. It can mean a month, a week, a day. It can even mean two hours from where you are. It has the ability to come before anyone is ready.
The future can be right now. I’m in it. Everything I was ever afraid of is right now. I’m stuck in the present Eternity and a fear of the future ahead.
Since graduating from high school two (WHAT) years ago, my mind has been consumed with “What do I do now?” One could argue that this very question is a huge source of my anxiety and even depression. Decisions have always been difficult for me. I find this embarrassing, because I like to think that I am a strong enough personality to be able to know what I want. But when it comes down to it, it’s difficult for me to even pick restaurants and, as the title alluded, paint my nails.
But, I am insistent on being as close to the best as possible at anything I do. I am a performer. I do well, or not at all. I want to be something that makes my loved ones proud, as well as something I love to get up and be every day.
I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like, so this should be simple. The problem is potential. I know mine. I was very good at school, maintained good grades and above average test scores, and ultimately enjoyed learning. However, I have zero desire to be in classes I hate, writing useless 20 page papers, stressing and falling apart for a degree I’m not even sure I want! I don’t understand or aspire to the misery of college standards. I love little kids, but I hate the idea of going in to Education because it seems like that’s what everyone who has no idea what to do does. Mediocrity is unacceptable. Then there is the other side of the spectrum: don’t go to college. Instead, go to beauty school. Again with the mediocrity. Although I don’t want to place any negative judgement on those who go to beauty school because, hey, I need them just as much as I need a chiropractor or dentist. But however much I enjoy doing hair and make-up, I can’t shake the feeling that I would be selling myself short. “Dropping out of college to go to hair school”. I can’t help but feel disappointed, as well as disappointing to others, by taking that route.
I know what I like, and I know what I don’t like. I know my potential and what I deserve.
How, then, do I still know absolutely nothing?
It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time — for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays …
Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, and ambition look ahead.
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters