Thursday, July 26, 2012


Written on July 23, 2011 at camp
When I hear about something, I form an image of it. I suspect that it will be a certain way and like a certain thing. I base these judgments off of what I heard and on what I have seen- basically, what I have seen and experienced. Not off of any concrete thing most of the time, unless it happens to be based off of a memory. Thus, I am sucked into the expectation trap.

Yet the problem with expectations is that you form an expectations is that you form an opinion on something before you've experienced it. In doing that, you've closed your mind. While it can be quite thrilling to have your expectations exceeded, it is equally as disappointing to have your expectations let down.

Basically, expectations make me feel safe though and this is especially true when this comes to people. Personally, I try to set my expectations lower rather than higher. I figure that most of the time, it's easier to be a pessimist than it is to be an optimist so I'm never let down. When I set expectations, it's like bracing for the impact. Since I have an unrelenting need to analyze other people and have them figured out, I tend to get expectations with them just as I do others. Setting expectations against others often has the same results as other expectations except it feels much more potent (which is where the safety factor comes in because people can so easily make me feel unsafe).

Perhaps the most damaging thing about expectations is that they aren't real. You still haven't experienced said thing most of the time and yet you have made up your mind. When it comes to people, this can be especially damaging and even hurtful. People are so multi-faceted with so many different sides to them. It doesn't help that so many people keep so many secrets.

Of course, it depends on the degree and surety of the expectation. If it's kind of a light, basic expectation or kind of more hopeful than sure, the impact of the expectation won't be nearly as severe. It's also different if it's a constant expectation rather than a one time thing or if you know that thing.

Right now, I'm at a sleepaway camp that I've been to before. Last year, I had a great time. Thus, I had a solid expectation for what I would experience once more. I didn't expect that things would change and the people and counselors would be different. I almost expected that one friend to just be with me and have that constant closeness again. Not everything works out so easily, though. New (and much less appetizing) food halls are built. Counselors leave; friends change and so does a crowd.

Things are different, but I'm starting to think that they're the same in a way that counts. Here expectations have killed me.

Ultimately, expectations can feel like a good thing but usually they're not. Usually, they build walls and tear things down. I'm learning to throw away most of my expectations because they basically serve me no purpose. Like with most bad habits though, it has to be conquered one step at a time.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to return to a camp I loved, for aspiring teen authors. It was a lot of fun the first year, and a lot of that fun was because three times a day, we trooped up to the adorable little meal house and sat down on wooden benches at wooden tables and ate our food. And oh, such food! Dessert every day...pie, cake, ice day was make-your-own-sundae. Our drinks were like a return to childhood-we had juice and koolaid and juice boxes. No soda for a full week. The cooks made three enormous pans of homemade mac and cheese one day. That was the only time I pigged out. It was delicious and I waxed eloquent about the food to the new people.

    And then there were different caterers that year and our pie and mac and cheese was replaced with hard cookies and unappetizing spaghetti. But new experiences replace the old. We had a service project to do, clearing a piece of land, about a football field worth, of debris-tree branches and trunks, so that new aspens could be planted there. The ranger made the mistake of saying that of course, we wouldn't get it all done, but...and one kid asked what we'd get if we did get it done. He asked what we wanted, and in ninety degree heat, we pretty much unanimously decided that we want ice cream! And then two girls promptly picked up an enormous tree trunk, and he knew he was in trouble. We ended up with root beer floats! There was the prank we pulled on the counselors, with the help of one of the teaching authors...yes, making them think one of their charges was attacked by a bear was mean, but they had tricked us on the first night! The boy who grabbed a vole while out on a walk, got bit by the vole, killed the vole, and got rushed to the hospital for all the tests and shots they had.
    Basically, after a while, the food didn't seem to matter. I still had stories to tell...they just didn't revolve around food.
    But I do miss that mac and cheese. Oh it was wonderful.