Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Stupid Way to Live: Expectations

By no means do I feel like I am someone who should be giving advice on how to live your life, but I’ve seen enough people on TV and Twitter that give advice that shouldn’t be either so I figure I can’t be much worse than them. I can’t really offer any deep wisdom or profound thoughts, but I can just tell you some of the ways of how I am learning.

Sometimes I simply find myself just plain sad. Do you ever have those days where you feel like you did when you just watched Mufasa die for the first time? It comes out of nowhere and hits you in the heart and head. Sometimes you can shake it off relatively quickly, but other times it seems to stick around for a little longer. Maybe for some it is a daily occurrence right now. I know there have been times in my life where every morning I had to look myself in the mirror, turn on the Rocky soundtrack, and give myself a pep talk.

Recently, I was bummed out. Not watch-Mufasa-die bummed out, but just kind of low. If you have a non-stop brain like mine then you know that it can be pretty annoying. I’m not good at pushing out the negative thoughts and thinking about good things or random things, or even just zoning out. I analyze the heck out of it and try to solve the mystery and piece together the puzzles. It kind of sucks being that way. I wish I could just go turn on the TV and turn my mind off, but I can’t. I was in full detective mode.

I was trying to figure out what the issue was, and I concluded it was because I was disappointed with some of the current areas in my life. Things weren’t going the way I had planned for them to go. And to be frank, I didn’t think God was holding up his end of the deal. You know that deal that really isn’t a deal but we think it is a deal? The one that goes a little something like, “Hey, I’m a good person… so things should be working out a little better.”

So I was bummed. I was bumming myself out that I was bummed. I was talking to my friends and bumming them out. It’s not a fun state of mind. Nobody enjoys being around that, except maybe Goth kids. Are Goth kids still in existence? Are they all still congregating outside of my high school geometry classroom?

But the next morning I had some wisdom knocked into my head in the form of one of my favorite songs by John Reuben called “Hindsight”:

Patience tends to not agree with my psyche. That's more than likely just some pride in me fighting expectations of where I think my life should be. Selfishly I forget so quickly.

That line hit me pretty hard. As hard as when Simba hit that hyena in the face. (I need to get another DVD besides The Lion King.) It started to become clear to me that the frustrations I was wrestling with were my own, dumb fault.

I think a lot of the unrest in my life comes from expectations. It comes from the fact that I put expectations on myself, on others, and on God. When what I’ve expected to happen doesn't turn out like I think it should, I get upset. And that's really a stupid way to live.

It's not that we shouldn’t have goals or plans for our lives, but it's different when you have expectations on your life that you just make up in your mind. If I place expectations on other people and on God to do things I think they should do, that is unreasonable and unfair. What does anyone else owe me? What does God owe me? Nothing. Of course there are a few things that maybe certain people are required by law to give me, but most of the things that we have as expectations come from selfishness. Pride. A false sense of entitlement. (The spoiled little brat inside of us. My inner spoiled brat’s name is Nelson. He is horrible to have at dinner parties)

I believe we are all selfish people by nature. Perhaps you don’t agree with me, and that’s fine, but go try to take away a random 2-year-old’s toy and tell me what he does. We don’t ever get rid of that nature, it is just the things we desire grow with age. Our toys get more expensive, and our expectations get more unrealistic. It’s no wonder they are unrealistic, though, when in 21st Century America we call “reality” what Jersey Shore is getting paid millions to live in. Reality has become a bad TV show on the E! Channel. (Here is the one rule I adamantly live by: Know as little as possible about whatever is on the E! Channel.)

We want control. We want control of our realities. We want control of our false realities. We are selfish. It’s just a matter of how selfish we let ourselves be.

Being a valet for a few years gave me some insight into life. One of the lessons I learned was this, “Not everyone should drive a car.” Good grief, if you only knew about some of the people that we let get back on the road. It’s the same with our metaphorical roads of life. We’re trying to drive cars we were never meant to. We are steering wherever we want to go and not where the road takes us. God is the only one who should drive. And maybe some of us backseat drivers need a good old-fashioned reach into the backseat smack in the face. Oh you never got one of those?

I don’t have all of this figured out perfectly yet, and maybe a dude in his twenties doesn’t really have a place to be giving his opinions on life like this, but like I said, all I am offering is how I am learning. I’m making a point in my life to focus on shutting up and killing my stupid expectations.

Chase your dreams. Challenge yourself. Set goals. But know there is a difference between those good things and our selfish expectations. I’m willing to bet that the distinction of the two will give you a little more peace in your life and make you more enjoyable to be around. It could also be the difference in you getting an ulcer in your thirties or not.

Hey, I’m right in this with you. I’m finding the more words I say, the more words I have to eat. And I’m already totally stuffed.