What not to expect when you're not expecting

Greg Behrens

fish jumping out of bowl

You weren't expecting this photo, were you?

Based on my alarmingly copyright infringing title choice, you may already think you know what I’m going to be nonsensically rambling about this week. Most people are going to immediately assume that I’ll be discussing child rearing, just because I headlined this piece with a clever homage to everyone’s favorite pre-natal field manual. Well, you know what everyone always says about assumptions right? They’re stupid. You can’t go through life expecting everything to happen a certain way based strictly on a first glance, or how you feel it should turn out. Now let’s talk about babies.

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You weren’t expecting that, were you? That’s exactly my point. As a personal rule, and after numerous therapist's recommendations, I try to live my life fairly free of expectations. “Expect nothing, and hope for the best” has long been a mantra of mine. It's a concept that, in theory, should reduce stress and ensure a lifetime of surprising outcomes to even the most ritualistic endeavors you may embark upon in your day-to-day life. While some may label such a practice as unpreparedness, or even just general dumbassery, I like to think of it as carefree optimisim. If you only did things because they’re assuredly going to turn out the way they first appear, no one would have ever decided to strap an elastic band to their ankle and jump off a bridge, or sell room temperature chorizo in a parking lot from the back of a repurposed, broken down school bus. Sure there’s some casulties, but think of all the temprary joy these things bring to so many.

Now, I’m not so naïve as to feel that it’s okay to just stroll into any situation willy nilly and solely hope for the best, and again, it’s foolish of you to expect that I would. But being prepared and overthinking are sometimes, much like perrenial HollyWood Square Jm. J. Bullock, a little Too Close For Comfort. Our lives are frought with situations far beyond our control, and it’s commonplace to attempt to “what if?” every scenario in hopes of finding the perfect path to our desired outcome. “What if I spill mustard or ham salad all over my cumberbund? Maybe I should bring several other changes of clothes.” Or “What if while I’m at this wedding someone should point to my cumberbund and ask what it is, and I pronounce it incorrectly because I’ve never actually said the word out loud, I only know how to spell it, and there’s a D in there, but sometimes it sounds like people are just saying bun at the end, and then everyone laughs at me?” These concerns can be derailed as easily as slipping on your cumberbund. Don’t worry about things you can’t control.

I just recently took a plane trip and, as I fancy myself a diligent traveller, I had all my ducks in a row and arrived at the airport with the suggested two hours to spare. And what praytell was all of my planning and worrying rewarded with you ask? A two-hour flight delay without compensation, and still even after boarding two hours late, having to wait extra time for two people to argue over which ailse seat directly across from each other belonged to whom for 20 minutes, before coming to the realization that no matter which they chose, they would still have to sit next to each other for the next three hours. If I would’ve had no expectations of people acting like adults, getting their jobs done quickly and efficiently, and arriving to appointments on time, I probably would’ve enjoyed the trip much more. Do you hear what I’m saying?

Just because things have a stigma of strict importance placed upon them by society doesn’t mean you have to work yourself into a frenzy to get the absolute perfect outcome, because things don’t work that way. Don’t bother trying to make things go in your favor, because often times you’re only making things worse. The world can be cruel and unforgiving, but also it can’t be. It’s all a crap shoot, so don’t expect to break the bank, but also hope you don’t lose the farm, because either way you’re not ready. I hope you find this advice helpful in some way, but if not, it’s cool, because I didn’t even expect you to read it.

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