A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, September 23, 2020
I sat in the vintage desk of my fourth-grade classroom among the backdrop of giggles and chatter when the click-clacking of Mrs. Malcom’s heels silenced the room. I turned around and inhaled the sweet, warm aroma that entered with her. My eyes trailed Mrs. Malcom as she strolled from the back of the room, curving along the wall of windows, making her way to the front of the classroom with my eyes planted on the little tray in her hands. I furrowed my brows, contemplating what was on the tray that smelled so sweet when I caught a glimpse of the most beautiful little gems of small white cookies with rainbow sprinkles on top. My eyes popped, and my mouth watered, and I involuntarily began licking my lips.
Mrs. Malcom revealed my lack of patience as I fidgeted, waiting for her to get to my row. She handed a cookie to the child in the first-row first seat, smiled, took a step, and did the same thing to the next child. I was three rows over! I worried she would run out of cookies when she got to me. Alas, I cradled this gem in the palm of my hand and marveled at it. I raised it to my nose and slowly took a whiff, confirming that it was the sweet aroma that filled the room before I took the first bite. The soft, delicate crumbles melted in my mouth, and the pleasant vanilla flavor and tender crunch from the sprinkles tantalized my senses. For an instant, my cookie and I floated away on a cloud. I have relived this moment often. Every time I see a cookie that resembles this gem, my mouth waters, and I smell the sweet aroma in that classroom all over again. Alas, none has ever lived up to my memory of Mrs. Malcom’s cookie. I don’t give up. I keep expecting to, one day, find that cookie again or a similar one.
That’s the problem with expectations. As good as it is to have them, they could make or break the situation. Like the vanilla cookies with sprinkles on top, you honestly can’t go wrong with any of those recipes. If you didn’t have something to compare it to, the one you bite into might become your favorite. You never know unless you give it a shot, but if you approach it with expectations, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. At least, that’s been my life story.
I have had expectations—often, high expectations—in every situation and event where I left disappointed. Has that happened to you? I remember raving about the delicious fish and chips at Red Robin to my friend Lena. Mark and I had the fish and chips dozens of times and never had a bad experience until I brought Lena there. The batter didn’t look right. It was mushy and fell apart. It tasted meh. I was embarrassed. Lena was too kind to say anything negative, but I felt bad for her, for me, and for Red Robin, who failed to meet my expectations that day. I can honestly say I’ve never raved about this entrée again. It also hasn’t failed me again. Of course, I no longer hold high expectations for it, either.
Often, I’ve attended gatherings with the same people there. I always entered the picture with expectations of having a great time and reconnecting with people I enjoyed chatting with previously. In my mind, we would resume from where we left off the last time we saw each other. Yet, time and time again, my expectations have proven faulty because sometimes we do pick up from where we left off, but usually, we don’t. I’ve been disappointed where someone was super friendly before, and we hit it off so well, but this time around, they are distant, unfriendly and don’t seem to want anything to do with me. Sometimes, they give off these vibes like maybe they were mad at me or something. That’s heartbreaking, especially for someone who is hypersensitive like me.
After too many episodes of disappointment, I began psyching myself up before an event. I go in expecting not to have a good time. I tell myself if I find an ounce of a good time there, I count that as a success. So far, dialing down my expectations has worked well for me. I almost always leave having a great time because I didn’t have high expectations to disappoint me.
I recently realized that although my mental adjustment was helpful, there is a better way to avoid false expectations when people are concerned. I’ve learned that we don’t know what’s going on inside others’ minds or in their world that might be troubling them. Just because they appear distant and unfriendly doesn’t mean it’s personal to me. I need to take it for what it’s worth that they may be mulling over an argument with someone, or the expenses they face, or perhaps awaiting results from a dreaded test or whatever. Maybe they didn’t want to come to the event but didn’t want to disappoint the host. The point is that I don’t know what lies in their silence, but we all have those moments. I’m trying not to take things personally but be more objective and receptive to others’ situations. Now, I go in with not taking things personally, remembering that a world lies in the silence that we are not privy to but may impact that person’s behavior. On top of that, be kind, be respectful to their needs, and be a friend. Most of all, have a good time, and that’s all I can do.
When it comes to non-people expectations, that’s where I continue to dial it down, keeping in mind that nothing remains the same. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be a bad experience—just not the same. After all, is it better to expect a winner and get a dud or a dud and get a winner? I vote for the latter. It’s all a matter of expectations.
The famous Forrest Gump quote resonates in my mind, “My mama always said, ‘Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.'” So true. When life is concerned, the sky is the limit, and our perspectives make it what it is. I plan to make it a good experience by living in the moment. Enjoying the experiences without preconceived expectations, and I know I will have a good time.