It'll Happen When You Least Expect It
I hate when words of wisdom clash.
Like, when Camp 1 tells you to name and claim what you want. Expect it, know it's coming, and prepare for it. Preparation being the ultimate show of faith.
However, Camp 2 warns you not to expect anything from a situation or especially from people. They don't go so far as to say that expectation is the root of all evil, but it's certainly the cause of misery and disappointment, which is pretty close to grim as evil.
What befuddles me is that these two contradicting trains of thought both sound correct.
It makes perfect sense to keep your energy focused on a desire and to prepare to receive it. If you want it, you must be it, right?
On the other hand, there's something paralyzing about the prospect of focusing your energy onto something that you may not ever get. It seems safer to have no expectations than to suffer defeat. Although, if not expecting anything is about avoiding disappointment, then it strikes me that fear of losing is more powerful than hope of getting.
In my everyday life, debating these two mindsets doesn't complicate anything. It just makes for good ole random musings.
However, in my romantic life, the idea that I should lower, or kill altogether, my expectations has been problematic.
I'm specifically talking about my expectations for meeting someone special, which is often met with the popular cliche: "It'll happen when you least expect it."
Here's what happened when I least expected.
I am back at work from a vacation and don't feel like doing much by way of personal beautification.
I get a call from one of my internal clients. He wants me to come down to floor 17. I oblige and figure it is about his big project. With hair haphazardly brushed back into a nondescript low bun that screams, "I didn't try at all today!" I enter the elevator and head down.
The elevator door opens. I exit in my tired brown slacks and ill-fitting orange sweater (by the way, it wasn't even fall for me to be wearing brown and orange). As I step closer to our meeting place, I lock eyes with a really handsome man. Really handsome. And he's sitting next to my client.
Thoughts are shooting rapid-fire in my head as I get closer, "You didn't do your make up good. Your lips are dry. You didn't pop a mint. You weigh 4 pounds more than you want. Why haven't you been working out?! Ugh!! Idiot!!"
My client introduces us. I smile and we shake hands. Turns out, he's the out-of-town rep who I've been helping via phone and email since I first started at the company. I'm finally able to put a face with a name, but so is he. And that mortifies me because I look an absolute, sloppy mess.
I did the thing that's supposed to magically conjure "the one." I least expected it. And I hated myself for it.
Here's what I believe about expectation.
Things will happen when you expect them to happen. And things will happen when you least expect them to happen.
Forgive the simplicity of this message, but the truth is, it'll happen when it happens. And if it's for you, it'll be.
Although I wish my appearance would've been more attractive that day, my belief is what made the situation easier to chalk up to goofy timing and something that wasn't for me anyways.
Do these seem positive?
Full of fear?
Or full of hope?
"The best way to avoid disappointment is to not expect anything from anyone."
"I really need to expect less from people."
"Never expect. Never assume. Never ask. Never demand. Just let it be. If it's meant to be, it will happen."
"I feel like I'm waiting for something that isn't going to happen."
"I hate when you're so excited for something but then it ends up not happening."
"The secret of happiness is low expectations."
"Too much expectation leads to sadness."
"We must rediscover the distinction between hope and expectation." - Ivan Illich
"No expectations, no disappointments."
"Expectations are premeditated resentments."
"Keep your expectations high on achievement and low on people."
"Peace begins when expectation ends."
I learned that day that expectation leads to preparedness, which is what I lacked. On the other hand, we should be mindful that expectation can also lead to feelings of entitlement and resentment, particularly if expectations aren't met.
I think it's perfectly fine to expect something or someone good to happen to you. I think it's fine to not have expectations, as well. And I think it's perfectly normal to meet someone special in the midst of either of those head spaces.
As a caution, I don't encourage anyone to deliberately turn off their positive expectation mindset in the name of hoping to "least expect" meeting someone. It's like trying to trick universal forces. You aren't fooling anybody. We know you fully want to meet someone special and that's ok. Expectation and hope are closely aligned--hope being a feeling of expectation, but I have a suspicion that so are no-expectations and pessimism.
We cannot trick destiny with least expectations.
If we do have expectations, we cannot be emotionally attached to outcomes either. We can't delude ourselves into thinking that there's only one outcome or only one way to be happy. Things may not unfold exactly the way you expect them to, but we should stay open to alternative endings.
We cannot make disappointment avoidance the reason why we abandon expectations, or worst of all, hope. The more you confront the things that you're trying to avoid, the less power those things have over you--and the less they hurt.
I don't think that it'll happen when you least expect it.
I just think that it'll happen.
Photo credit: Paula Porto via Unsplash