TO EXPECT IS HUMAN

It was a few days after the results of the Annual Examination of the school were declared. A mother stood wiping her tears silently at a corner of the room of the Headmistress. Her son had failed to pass Grade V, the second time. As she wiped her tears, she lamented how her children could be so (her elder daughter had to leave school a few years back when she was unable to clear Grade IX). She was not so much worried for their academic performance, as she was for their behavior. To second the list of complaints that the teachers had against her son, she shared how badly her son of 11 years behaved at home. She said that they were God-fearing parents who could never think of behaving rudely or causing harm to anybody and that they had so many expectations from their children (the parents were not much educated and belonged to the Economically Weaker Section of the society). But, it all seemed in vain now!

A young woman of 28 years – having all the rights to take the decisions of her life by virtue of being a sane adult – in love for twelve years with a person from the same religion, but belonging to another caste (a great Indian social set-up that one is born into and can get out only when one dies – that is the belief among those who denounce the caste system, but are unable to do much about it) – expected her parents to forget the societal boundaries and give their consent for the marriage because of their love for her – had her dreams crushed only to realize that for her parents societal prestige is much more important than parental love. As she faces the possibility of being forcibly married off and her beloved’s family being killed, all she says repeatedly in between sobs is that, “How stupid was I to expect that my parents would love their child over and above every other thing!”

A young couple was eagerly expecting the birth of their first child. The mother-to-be was admitted to the village hospital on an emergency basis days before the date given by the gynecologist. Her husband was away at work in the town and couldn’t reach to be by his wife’s side at the time of delivery. A healthy baby boy was born. Photos were clicked and sent to the beaming new father. By evening, the baby’s health deteriorated and he breathed his last before seeing a new day (owing to medical negligence). By the time the father reached, the baby was already cremated. He could not even hold his first-born in his arms! The couple’s expectations were brutally crushed.

Well then, who is to blame – the people who expect or those who throw cold water on the expectations of others?

To expect is human. We can’t live and thrive in the world without expecting things off others. The level and intensity of expectations may be small or big – but none can deny having expectations. It’s only robotic not to have expectations! Our desires, thoughts, dreams, situations, people – the very way we are made – cause us to expect.

Can we control our expectations? Controlling expectations would mean killing them. While we cannot kill the expectations within us, we can sure do two things well. One, control our over-expectations. When we expect things, it is wise to bear in mind that others are not infallible. Each person or situation has its limitations. Hence, keeping expectations tied low to the ground would save many a heartache. Two, try our best to fulfill the expectations of others. It hurts to have an expectation overlooked and unmet. The same applies to others too when we are at the giving end. To ensure that we cater to the expectations of others to the best of our abilities is the least we can do for them.

In moments of solitude and introspection, so many times we would have shaken our heads chiding ourselves for the folly of our expectations. Some indeed would have been foolish because either they were unrealistic or mere over-expectations. But, some would sure have been sincere expectations which were left unmet – the joys of marital bliss, satisfaction at job, success in exams, the blessing of a child, healing for self or loved ones, and so on.

Reasoning, logic and explanations would simply be placebos. The truth is that we can’t really fathom why certain expectations were left unfulfilled. But, the only consolation is that even these unfulfilled expectations are not hidden from the God who has created you and me. He chooses to draw closer to us and gain glory even through these phases of dejections.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

(THE BIBLE)

NOT SO FOLLY OF EXPECTATIONS!

Google defines expectation as, “a strong belief on happening of something.”

William Shakespeare once said, “Expectation is the root of all heartaches.”

These two sentences express two different perception of the word ‘expectation’. Google portrays it to be something positive but Sir Williams explains it to be something negative. Something we should all try to stay away from. Something which would devastate us into an irreparable loss if not fulfilled.

Well! Enough of digital and philosophical knowledge. Let’s get back to reality now! The real question here is, do we really have to keep ourselves devoid of expectations? Do we really have to force or hearts and minds to stop feeling something which a normal human would ordinarily feel and experience? You will find your answer by the end of this article.

We being humans, expectations are rooted deeply in our veins. It is an emotion just like other emotions. The reason people are afraid of it is because sometimes, it lands us on the rock bottom. So basically people are not afraid of expectations, people are afraid of the consequence of such expectations. People are afraid to hit the rock bottom. They lack the self-confidence and belief of rebuilding their broken parts.

Being an ordinary human myself, I have also been played by expectations several times. I too have hit the ‘rock bottom’ and have managed to build my broken pieces. Be it the expectation of securing good grades during my board exams or the disappointment of not receiving proper attention of certain people in my life, I have been through the cycle of expectations countless number of times, even after knowing I would fall in the same pit over and over again. But today, I thank God for making me face such disappointments, and for giving me strength to handle them. Today, I am a stronger person with a happy soul.

Time is the biggest teacher, and it is this teacher who taught me that every person who expects is not a fool. It is actually very easy to turn off the switch of expectation and to keep yourself devoid of it, than to dare to expect and handle its consequences. Most of my readers would agree that life is a lesson. It teaches us several important things. We either learn it the easy way or the hard way, but at the end of every chapter, we learn a lesson. We understand the moral of the story of life. Expectation is one of the hardest chapters of life. If you devoid yourself of it, just by the fear of being addressed as a ‘fool’, you lose an important lesson of your life.

Let me give you a real life experience. I recently figured out that my childhood friend who is also my sister, would be leaving town very soon. I was devastated to know that. My heart did not want to go through the pain of separation. I did not have the courage to face it, so I started hiding my feelings. I did not cry the day she actually left town. I even controlled my tears while saying my last goodbye to her. I saw her crying but kept my emotions intact. At that time, probably the right thing would have been to express what I felt, to let my tears roll down. But instead I chose the easy way of ignorance and pretendence. I acted as if I never expected her to stay. Days passed and I could not control my emotions anymore. I called her immediately and burst into tears. We both started weeping over phone and she consoled me that she would try her best to meet me soon. Today I am so glad that I was brave enough to accept the feeling of expectation and strong enough to handle the non-fulfilment of the same. This experience, has made me emotionally strong today. I am able to cherish the bonding that we share, in spite of being far away from her.

So, while following the right path, you will come across a chapter called expectation. Life will shatter you over it, you will be called an emotional fool several times, but if you follow your life lessons properly, you will learn to build yourself over those disappointments. You will learn what to expect and what not to expect. The things which once broke you will act as building blocks in your life. At this moment you will realise you are not a fool after all. You will understand that you are just a human, who is courageous enough to expect and strong enough to get over the disappointments arising out of those expectations. You will learn that foolishness is shutting yourself from a basic human emotion and not embracing that emotion with a brave heart.

I hope my readers will understand that expectation and strength to handle its consequences are never independent of each other. They always go hand in hand. If you are brave enough to expect, then be strong enough to face its consequences. Come what may! Know that you are one among many other brave hearts in the world.

In the end, I would like to sign off by quoting the words of my favourite author, Elizabeth Gilbert which goes something like this, “This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It shows that you have tried to achieve something.”

Expectations are not always FOLLY. They are sometimes COURAGEOUS and BRAVE!

Be Brave, Be Strong!

Happy reading!