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Friday, August 1, 2014

Great Expectations

As I turned 22 a few weeks and August is Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA) Awareness month I thought it was fitting to discuss expectations. There are literally millions of articles/blogs about SMA so I'm not going into great detail about it. There's a lot I could say about the disease but I'll just say this: not only does SMA steal muscles, but it also steals lives and certain expectations. My parents had anticipated a life of "normalcy" for me until the doctor told them I wouldn't live past the age of two. I've defied a significant number of negative and positive expectations.

Expectations are everywhere in life. Whether it's about yourself, your loved ones, your future or anything else you have these hopes for how life is supposed to turn out. If you're exceedingly lucky your future will unfold exactly as you desired but most likely it won't. Expectations are tricky because if one doesn't have any one might live a stagnant life that can't progress but if one has too many or too great of desires then they are just asking for disappointment.

Balance in this area has always been a struggle for me. As a child I was convinced that most of teenage and adult life would be almost like tv and the movies. Obviously, I would soon learn how disillusioned I was. That didn't change that fact that I had ridiculously high hopes for certain milestones and when they didn't go as planned I was often crushed. It got so bad that I started expecting the worst out of everything. That way if something good occurred I was pleasantly surprised. However, a mindset such as that is a very cynical approach to life.

For me life is best when I don't expect the worst but I expect nothing at all or keep my desires very minimalistic. Recently I went through an experience that would have broken my heart years ago because I would have wanted so much more. As it was though, I was able to see the whole ordeal for what it was: a necessary learning experience. I was only able to do that because I went into it not anticipating much.

And maybe that's what life is about: learning not to expect so much out of people, places, and things but learning that you can expect to learn a lesson in every good and bad thing that happens in your life. You can't expect someone you love to always be there. You can't expect your children to be exactly who you imagined. You can't expect to be financially rich. You can't expect an impossible future. But you can expect routes that deviate from your plans so adapt and learn from them because in life the expectations that are completely unexpected are the ones you can always expect (try saying that 10 times fast ;).