Uncertainty is one of the most important things that feature in our lives and as much as we try to, we never get used to it.
How do you get used to the fact that this could be my last blog post ever? Or how do you get used to the fact that the person you call the love of your life today could be a complete stranger tomorrow? Or that a person seemingly sane could become an inmate of a mental institute? We never get used to it.
I was about 9 years old when I learned about uncertainties and disappointments. I had just had some issues applying for a federal college and as a result, I had to wait for a few months before I could gain admission into any school. During this period, I spent most of my days home alone. All my siblings were away in school and I was left with my mum and dad. They both left the house for work as early as 5am in the morning and didn’t get back till the night time.
My routine was simple. I would wake when they were leaving and start reading any book I could lay my hands on. When the day broke, I made breakfast for myself and continued reading. I only took breaks from my books to use the toilet and fix a meal for myself. When it was 6pm, I would tidy the house and wait for my mum to arrive. She was usually the first to arrive and always came back between 7pm and 7.15 pm.
Days turned to weeks and my mum stuck to this pattern. Everyday, once the clock struck 7pm, I would listen patiently for her footsteps on the stairs and surely before the clock struck 7.15pm, she would be knocking on the door. It was our little ritual and I absolutely loved it.
Then the day came. A normal Monday evening. It was 7pm and I was waiting for my lover’s footsteps like every other day but this time, I didn’t hear them. The clock struck 7.16 and I was already hyperventilating. It was getting dark and my fear of darkness was not helping. By 8pm, I was frantic with tears blinding and choking me. I imagined all things terrible that could have happened to her and wondered what would become of us.. Of me..
By 8.30pm, my mother knocked on the door in her usual cheerful self. She took one look at my face and frantically asked me what the problem was. After I managed to narrate my fear to her without sounding stupid, she laughed sweetly and said “I’m sorry, I went to see your aunt and she wouldn’t stop talking. That’s why I’m home late” .
Okay. Good thing is, she was safe. My fears were allayed. Bad thing is, I was sad and hurt and disappointed. Don’t ask me for a justification for my disappointment because my 9 year old self was not bothered about being reasonable but was merely dissapointed that my mum had broken our little ritual.
It should have hit me at that point. But it didn’t. I was still convinced that if we take every tiny detail into consideration or that if we can find the pattern, we can, to an extent, predict the events of our life. For example, considering the fact that I was a star student throughout primary school and junior secondary school, I didn’t expect to be anything less than 3rd position in my first term in senior secondary school. I ‘expected’ that with my natural intelligence, coupled with reading and extra lessons, I would emerge top of my class. So when my results came at the end of the term with 5th position boldly written on it, once again, I was dissapointed. Dissapointed in myself and in my “intelligence”.
It should have hit me at this point. But still, it didn’t. I still believed that to an extent, life and the people in it were predictable. At least the sun rose every morning and set every evening. That should count for something. So I went about my daily life, constantly expecting. If I prepared hard for a competition, I expected to win. If I showed respect to someone, I expected respect in return. If I loved a person, I expected love in return. If I ate well and exercised daily, I expected to be healthy. Expectations. Expectations. Expectations.
Then on an uneventful evening, a person casually said to me. That if I lowered my expectations of life and people,i was bound to get less dissapointed. At that moment, it sounded like a good punchline so I tweeted it without thinking about it.
And today. At this moment. I’m thinking about it. I’m sitting down in a crowded bank and the woman beside me smells like raw fish. My friend is on a long queue and I’m trying my best to breathe while holding my breath. At this moment, I’m thinking about it….
That the reason why it’s important to lower your expectations of life and people is because of uncertainties. The fact that you never truly know what could happen the next second is the reason why you shouldn’t have any expectations. It’s not about assuming the worst of every situation. It’s about not assuming at all.
If I hadn’t expected my mum to stick to our ritual, I would not have been dissapointed. if I didn’t expect to automatically come top of my class, I wouldn’t have been disappointed. and so on and so forth. So on the surface it seems like a simple math formular.
Expectations = Disappointment when Uncertainty is constant.
But here’s the plot twist; the fish smell has been replaced by the cologne of a young handsome man but unfortunately, my friend is done at the counter so I’m leaving the bank now. Now here’s the plot question…
Is it humanly possible to have zero expectations?
Isn’t there at least a minimum level of character you expect from friends and family? Don’t you expect your life to turn out a certain way? Here’s a sentence…
I’m expecting a visitor by noon
If I lived a life of zero expectations, what would that sentence become?
Do you see how hard this shit is?
If the said visitor doesn’t show up, I’m going to be unavoidably dissapointed because let’s face it, I really was ‘expecting’ that human to show up
So in the comfort of my bed, I’ve spent the past few hours surfing the internet and trying to figure out how a person can have zero expectations. How I can train my mind into understanding that no-one, not even life, owes me anything and how I can live my life with less expectations and less disappointments.
There is no ‘how’
After drowning myself in millions of articles, I’ve realized that there is no “how?”. You either have expectations or you don’t.
It’s like a person asking “How do I smile?”. You either smile or you don’t smile. There’s no “how?”.
Perhaps we should try this principle at the crack of dawn today. There’s no asking “how do I have zero expectations?”. Wake up and have zero expectations and we’ll see if it’s possible and best of all, effective.
Did I end this post too abruptly? Do you feel dissapointed? Remember what we just talked about?
PS. This is not my last blog post ❤ I love you too much to stop.
PS: Happy world children’s day
PS(i swear this is the last one): please drop a comment below and follow me on all social media @prettydiferent