fernanda column drawing

Columnist Fernanda Lopez's drawing depicting fighting reality versus expectations. 

New school year, new me — or is that what we want to believe?

Having too many expectations is one of those special concepts that keeps us out of bed and excited about life. I agree — having certain expectations of ourselves can definitely motivate us to eventually fulfill those goals we wrote down in our Notes app.

I'm not here to debate that, as I think looking forward to something is one of the most effective ways to make life feel light-hearted, even on somber days.

However, I consider myself an irrational person, so I've had my fair share of fights and disagreements with experiences in life, as I often find myself not being satisfied with anything.

After many trial and errors, over-analyzing situations and attempting to be rational, I've come to a conclusion: My surreal expectations are often the ones to blame.

The amount of times I have felt underwhelmed is present in my words and expressions — from answering “meh” after being asked how an important episode of my life is going to constantly comparing what a younger version of myself was expecting to be doing right now.

Before coming to college, I thought I was going to change the school I went to with solely my presence.

Perfect grades? Of course, I'll study every day before coming to class.

Gym schedule? I'll look like Dua Lipa after the first semester ends.

Hot boyfriend? I will have a long list to choose one from.

A shock to no one, those things did not happen.

I was not living up to the expectations I had crafted from movies, shows and other forms of media that had fed my image of the college experience. However, this was only a mask — an irrational thought that was obstructing the way I thought and lived.

To the foreign eye, I was doing more than fine; I was having a realistic first experience as a person who's new to college — one that was far from disappointing.

But according to myself, I was far away from doing fine, as I was disappointing myself by not living up to my expectations.

Instead of giving myself some credit, I would sink even more.

It took months and countless conversations to find out why I wasn't satisfied with myself.

Instead of using high expectations I had set for myself to motivate me, I was using them to focus on what I didn't have.

Expectations are one of those things we need to learn how to live by as we will be both disappointed and delighted by them.

The hardest part about not letting expectations interfere with how you live life is detecting them. This task is especially difficult to me, as rationalizing is a vital step to do so.

Is this supposed to be the best part of my life, or am I just fixating on movies and exaggerated anecdotes?

Well, almost most of the time it's that second part.

We think we are not satisfied or living up to our expectations because we decide not to, rather than because our life is not going as sublimely as we think.

It would be against our nature to not be tempted to look for something more, rather than sitting down and enjoying a moment as mundane as drinking a London Fog tea after a rainy day.

But sometimes we need to cooperate by learning to live with high expectations rather than letting them control us.

Even though I want young Fernanda to hear this advice, I do believe changing something as small as adapting your expectations on a daily basis will in some way remove a blindfold from our eyes that we did not even know we had — as even the smallest things could surprise us.

After fighting with surreal expectations and disappointments for countless years, both consciously and unconsciously, I’ve come to my own conclusion.

Once we decide we are happy with our reality, it will almost automatically become easier to have a better time, which is the ultimate goal of any existing expectation.

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