Not-So-Great Expectations (& life after college)

It was beginning of my senior year at college, a year very faint in my memory in comparison to the other 3, okay 4 years. I remember talking to a group of family friends who were visiting the campus, and specifically avoiding the inevitable questions that most adults love to ask senior college student. And then it came, “ So any boys???” I recall quickly answering with a laugh “Nope.” “Oh well, that’s okay. You have one more year left, right?” My stomach dropped. One more year? Was that really all I had left? One year to find a man, pick a career? One year to get this ball called “life” rolling, so that on the days to follow graduation I wouldn’t have to approach such individuals feeling a compete, or rather incomplete, loser? 

I knew it’s what most adults were thinking when they saw a jobless, single, young Music Performance student. But really? You had to say it to my face? Though I resented the remark I knew I carried the same expectations for myself. Likely it’s why I resented it. I quickly faced life after college with no exact plan (or man) for my life. And it wasn’t so much the not having these things in place that scared me, as it was encountering such questions that seemed to rate my status. The idea of growing older with a sense of inferiority and numbers adding to my age, yet still feeling like a child because my life wasn’t exactly “with it” was probably my greatest fear at the time. 

I’m sure some of you have felt those expectations or had them for yourself, whether you like to admit it or not. You go to school, pick a job, fall in love, tie the knot, have a quaint honeymoon in a family timeshare, buy the house, have the baby and then life begins. At least this is what I grew up to know as normal and expect of myself. Not just in my own family was this normal but it was the same with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends of the family. It just seemed normal and right. And why wouldn’t it be the same for me? It’s not like I grew up with this as a some romanticized fantasy or dream, it was more like a hidden assumption (or one could say I was slightly induced with a few romanticized fantasies after one too may viewings of “Sense and Sensibility” in high school.) 

Growing up, as incredible and great as my parents are (and I’m not just kissing butt, I’m completely sincere in saying that) I’ve always strived to be my own person, a part from my parents. I moved to the other side of the states for college. I picked a concentration in Music, which no one else in my family ever pursued as a degree. I planned on acting and singing, which no one in my family would’ve even acknowledged at the time if they wanted to pursue it. I even moved to NYC last year, though there was more to that move than just trying to being different, but that’s for another day. But even in NYC there was this part of me that anticipated life to fall in a similar pattern. Without a doubt I can say I’ve somewhat rated my life based upon whether life progressed in a similar course as my parents. I can’t say it’s pressure from my family because they’ve never put that on me. Something about their stories and living in such an environment just set me up with great expectations. However, one can only try so hard for life to work out a certain way. 

Our generation, of course, tries pretty hard to look like we’re not trying, so we act like it doesn’t bother us. Like being single past thirty is no big deal. Like figuring out what we want to do with our lives, ten years after college, is a valid question to still be tossing up in the air. It seems we even toss it high enough so it doesn’t fall back in our laps just yet, cause we don’t necessarily like answering such definitive questions. This might sound accusatory, but it’s nothing I’m not holding against myself. 

Then again on the flip side, maybe when our parents married, they were launching into their careers with enough force to afford them a house and a phony sense of security, they questioned just as much as those of us without the white picket fence. Just maybe the current divorce rate in America is a clear sign that finding a mate to marry right after college isn’t always how it should be.  

Most of us, not matter what age or generation, grow up not completely sure how life is going to unfold. Even if it did fall into place as I had hoped, I don’t think life would be as exciting as I’ve hoped. It’s almost contradicting. As much as we love to know what the next day, week or even years hold, we love the thrill of the unknown. Who doesn’t like surprises? Apparently I don’t. Certainly life has held surprises I have not liked and even fought against, all because I expected something different. And what I expect, of course is ideal in my eyes, at the time. Every year I seep a little deeper into the realization that I do not know what’s best for me all the time. Just the other day I had a “Gosh, why didn’t I listen to my mother!”-moment. 

What appears ideal and perfect isn’t always ideal and perfect for us. Our culture always wants the best. And (I’m highly faulted for this) when it’s not the best, even barely the best, our expectation’s aren’t met and we are highly disappointed, because anything else appears to be a plan B in comparison to our plan A. It’s only taken me 27 year (now months away from 28) to just go with life, to let God run the show and ask what He expects of my life rather than clinging to my great expectations. Not to say we shouldn’t have great expectations of life, without a doubt we should. But living for our great expectations, we will likely meet unexpected seasons that seem not-so-great. As 2011 is about to wind down, I’m more content than I can remember, knowing it’s not my expectations I’m awaiting, but it’s being with God and knowing Him that is so great even when times are not-so-great.