Expectations, Allow Me to Introduce You to Reality


Every time we try anything new, we navigate a period of time in which we must reconcile our expectations with reality. For some people, that process can seem pretty chill. It's almost like they see things for what they are and they're like, "Oh, word. This is fine." 

I'm not that person. I try to be. I try so hard. I try to think of every possible outcome to any situation so that I won't be surprised by the end result. I also do fun woo-woo things like try to send my energy to whatever thing I want to happen the most because I think that will change the way things end up. Sometimes that works really well. Sometimes I'm in denial that it's working really well.

This seems like a good time to let you know that yes, I do have a therapist. And yes, we are working on this little control issue I seem to have. It's going...well?

Look, I'm not one of the people who decided to go to acupuncture on a whim. It didn't occur to me one day in mid-July. I didn't apply that day and then buy books and go to school that fall. I've been planning for this for three years. I've been really careful. I know what happens when you make impulsive, expensive decisions. My 20s are full of those kinds of choices and my bank account reflects it. 

I applied for school more than a year before the application was due. I applied so early that they sent me the course registration information for the term that was 6 months before the one I wanted to attend. When I told the school I wasn't trying to start school so soon they wrote back and said, "No one ever applies this early. We thought you made a mistake in your application materials."

No mistake. Just neurosis. 

When I started school, I thought I'd be best friends with everyone in the room. I thought I'd be able to handle working part time and going to school full time while maintaining a loving relationship with my boyfriend, his son and my friends. 

I was incorrect on all counts.

We'll talk about the lack of best friends thing later because that story gets its own post. 

Almost immediately, the stress of school started to affect my health. My right eye started twitching non-stop. I got really sick. My heart would start racing in the middle of dinner for seemingly no reason. I would spontaneously cry on drives to the grocery store. I started screaming into pillows like I liked it. Then, I started to experience vertigo on a daily basis. 

It took me two months of this to decide that something needed to give. I couldn't fathom going on like this for three years. I talked to one of my classmates and she, a wise old soul, said, "These next three years are going to pass no matter what. You have to choose how you're going to spend them." 

Then, during a daydream, I thought, "Man, it sure seems weird that I'm running myself into the ground learning how to heal people. Shouldn't I be taking these lessons and applying them to my own wellness as well?"

These realizations were like watching my expectations shake hands with reality, while excusing themselves from the room.

We get one life, as far as I know. We don't know when it's going to end. I've never heard an old person say that their biggest regret in life was that they didn't work hard enough. No one says, "I really wish I had stressed out more about my accomplishments and my grades and what people thought of me because that stuff really pays off in the end." That's absurd.

So here's the moral: if stuff hurts or feels weird or wrong or you're getting super sick and you happen to be privileged enough to change things around so you can take better care of yourself, you better do it. We can't take very good care of each other if we aren't taking care of ourselves. 

Tatum Fjerstad