Yes, you read it right. It took me ten years and so this is be my longest post till date. It is about something which every twenty year old thinks he has done and has a good understanding about. Be it that way but here is my version of it. Please be patient, take some time off and read the entire one. Because at the end, I assure you that there are some valuable points which you can take.
Before we start, I would like to give a small preface. As you know, I have just finished my teenage. Like all teenagers, I have been through a lot of emotions, problems, great moments and stuff like that. Teenage is all about from what I have understood is the transformation in character, physique etc thanks to our beloved hormones. One of the biggest things that I came across during this phase is coping up and understanding this thing called expectation. As a 20 year old just out of teenage, I guess I am able to form a rough picture of this after a series of experiments which took me on a roller coaster ride of happiness, sadness and everything in between. So here I present you my experiments so that at least someone like me might get benefited from it.
Like everyone else I have my own expectations. Big or small, important or trivial, one or many, I just have my own expectations. Not only from the people in my circle of interaction but outside as well. As a teenager, I just directed my thought process and life according to what I came across as good or bad. The problem with this kind of decision is that I was not able to discriminate between the good and the bad at first unless I tried them. I followed whatever was branded as good and leave off the bad. As you would have guessed, I did follow some advice which I wouldn’t say as bad but as things which did not suit me. But ultimately, I learnt from each one of them which lead to this rant.
I do not remember when or from who but I was told that expectations are good in a relationship. By a relationship I do not mean the one with a special someone but everyone in general. Of course, as a kid I had expectations from my mom, dad and brother. But thanks to this thought and a natural instinct, several other people were added to this list. The list starts with my mom, dad, brother and goes on to include friends, colleagues of the same cadre, higher cadre, teachers and other staff members. I can include some more people and things like my country, the celebrities I like and follow ranging from sports stars to movie stars and finally to the things that I pay for which includes everything from my shoe to the dinner at a restaurant. Yes, I know all these are natural for all of us. So I thought it was good to expect from these people and I did the same.
The thing is, if any of these entities fail to satisfy my expectation, I got angry at them. But if my expectation got fulfilled, the next time I expected more and the old one became a natural thing for that entity to satisfy. So it became more difficult for the entity to satisfy me and if failed, I would get angry again, and the crazy cycle was going on. Obviously this is not a good sign. I started doubting if I am going on the right path. There I was in a period of disappointments on people, myself, my principles and guidelines.
The good thing was that I kept reading everything I came across like news articles, anectodes, quotes, biographies, self help books etc and hence I always had good thoughts and ideas to follow from scratch when I reach this point which I like to call nothingness. The pain I felt within me because of this cycle was aggravating by the day and so I looked for someone or something that had dealt with such a situation before. The person who came up by my search was the great saint Gautama Buddha. He was a person who tried to find the reason for pain and finally he said “Desire is the cause for pain”. Sounds good for me to follow I thought thanks to the credibility of the person who said it. So I started to try and follow Buddism if that was all Buddism is about.
Following this wasn’t really very easy in the beginning. I thought that desire and expectation are the same and that made me get off on the wrong foot. I tried very hard not to expect from anyone or anything. Just accept things as how they are and go on. When someone asked me to do something or if I had any expectation to fulfill I sincerely put my full effort to do it as I did not want others to fell disappointed like me. After the initial few days, things were good especially in relationships. When any one in that list failed to do something which I normally expect from them, I did not get angry. I would just move on and continue to try my best in fulfilling their expectations. But here I made my second mistake of moving on. I moved on, not from having any expectations at all but over the disappointment by trying to ignore it or forget it. This was not all what Buddha had said. So after a period of time, I became fed-up with people but still continued to follow the same. This time it turned out to be indifference and not compassion as I had earlier. This clearly was not a good sign. On the other hand, I was not getting the worthy things to what I paid for. There was one more side, and that is the personal side. I started expecting less or nothing at all from me. During exams or tests, I would just prepare to an extent I can, write and just accept my result and move on without trying harder the next time to become better. This lead to my academics, other things that I do and ambitions getting deteriorated. This is definitely not a good sign for a teenager I thought. After this, not much time or effort was required for me to get plunged into nothingness.
Once I got thrown in nothingness, I started my “bring myself back to the correct track” program by contemplating over my current track and guiding principles. That told me, I had made two primary flaws as I mentioned earlier. So I asked myself if the same thing is started again without these two, would a better life be resulted. That is a very serious question which I had to answer. Clearly I knew that if I follow that in my relations, at some point people will start branding me as indifferent, I will not get what I pay for and more importantly I did not know how to handle my dreams and ambitions which can’t be let go just like that. I was no Buddist monk to follow that thought. I had my own ambitions and goals to achieve and secure a good lifestyle. Maybe I did not have the wisdom to understand the thought in the right sense and follow it in the right way. Either way, it was not working for me and so it was time to find something better. I set myself on a journey again to find a new set of guiding principles.
At this point, I did not understand how parents shower unconditional love or the so called romantics have a one sided love affair. I tried very hard to understand them. I did not understand the unconditional love and as for the one sided affair, I understood that all those one sided romantics have an internal desire that their love will be returned and their expectations will be satisfied some day. They only had a longer rope, that’s all. At the end of their rope, they just abandon their love affair and move on to a new one, either immediately or after a while. But anyway, at that point of time I had decided to find a new guidelines and I was in strong pursuit of it.
After a few days, I got a new idea to follow. It was “The answer to every problem lies within and not else where. So search where you lost it.” This meant to say that the solution lied within me and not anywhere else. It was sort of very obvious but was worth a try. I tried to understand the pattern in which my expectation cycle manifested, what all I expected and finally what all others expected from me. This was a very interesting experiment as I had to guide myself by myself and not a thought or idea as last time.
The interesting experiment started by me observing how people react when I satisfy their expectation, when I fail to because of various reasons. Then I observed how my expectation system reacted for the same things. From what I could observe, almost all of the teenagers around me had the same cycle by which their expectations grew by getting satisfied. I was glad to know that this cycle was normal and I was sane. Interestingly, majority of the adults had fixed expectations. Their expectation did not change or increase in things except where my performance was considered like academics for example. This was good. I could follow the same and nothing bad would happen.
I felt exhilarated that I got a new guideline that I felt was flawless. I started off by controlling my the growth in my expectation with everytime it got fulfilled. I just had a basic level of expectation from people which did not change except where performance is considered. I would get satisfied easily and always as my expectation was low enough. But when I wasn’t those were the instances where my expectations grew beyond my basic mark. I could constantly remind myself of this and I would not get angry at all or even disappointed. I felt like I had conqured this thing which had tormented so long – expectation until a few incidents happened.
I shall start the few incidents with the thing with the growing cycle in other people that I was a part of. Everytime I satisfied someone’s expectation, their’s grew and I was expected to do more next time. I tried to explain people this whenever possible and that resulted in a good ending. As for the situations that I wasn’t able to, the results weren’t quite pleasing. I did not know how to handle this.
The next thing was handling sychophants. I really had no clue at all on how to handle this. I just simply chose to ignore these people until they get fed up and leave me. I lost a few relationships which I could have done better or handled in a different way. Either ways, I did not want to go back, satisfy the sychophants and try to take the relationship in a different way. I did this partially because I had decided to move on and partially because I had an inner feeling that these people will never change. I still do not know if it was the right thing to do but I just did what I did hoping that some where in the future, the dots would connect.
These two things though were not efficient enough to push me into nothingness were enough to set me thinking on why these two happen and how to avoid them. That thought process made me feel often that people including me are very materialistic. It happens with friends, special someone or anyone else. Except parents, almost everyone else expect something back when they give you something. And the thing they expect keeps growing everyday. If not given, flaring up results in some form. This is not right. My perspective that materialistic might be flawed but I had a strong feeling that it was not. By being materialistic I do not say big things but even the small things like expecting your friend to fetch you a cup of coffee when you are working or because you are tired or because you are plain lazy because you have done something similar for him in the past or just because he is your friend. May be it is human tendency, but there was something missing in the picture. There was something that I did not see. There should be some model that had answers to these questions. I just needed to find it out and I set out to find exactly that.
By this time I had got completely absorbed into science and technology’s greateness. I was in awe of them and had drew inspiratin from them several times. The world that we are in today is the way it is thanks to science and technology. Both good and bad things have happened to it because of science but that is a post for some other day. For me nature is God and science is merely a tool to decode some of nature’s amazing things. Sometimes science tries to defy nature and that is when catastrophies happen. As long as science and nature are in harmony, the things that can be achieved are boundless. The results are so stunning in such cases. I was so sure that I can use science to find answers to my questions as long as the science that I choose remains in harmony with nature. Things appeared so easy now as I am depending on two things which have never failed me.
Thanks to my way of interpretting science to understand nature and our daily issues, I could get one very basic law to answer all my questions that had arisen so far. It is a law which any sixth grade student would know even. It is the simple but very robust and efficient law of conservation of energy. It says, “Energy can neither be created nor be destroyed but can be converted from one form to other.” We also know that when such a conversion of energy happens in a system, heat is dissipated. If I consider the input that I give to a system or person as energy, then if that system attempts to convert this energy into another form then heat or anger is dissipated. That’s it! All the answers I sought out so far have been answered. I understand that if I just use the energy that is given to me in its natural way as how it was originally intended and without converting it to other forms, then life would be great. Let us now take each of the case discussed above and see how this applies.
Let us start with the concept of unconditional love that our parents show on us. It is simple, they have been showed the same love as a kid and so they are able to pass it on to us in the same pure form. There are cases in which the parents did not get such a treatment when they were kids but are able to shower love on their children. I am sure that at some point from someone, they got or were able to see pure love being given to someone which they are able to absorb and pass on. The next thing is the one sided affair. Here the energy that is supplied remains bottled up in the same place for a very long time that heat is built up. Heat is built up either in the receiver or giver of the love because he had to do something to generate all that love. After a period of time, this heat dissipation kills the relationship. When you pay for something, you get a product or service which is equivalent to that payment you made and when it is less or something else, then heat is dissipated because of the unnatural use of the input energy. When a sychophant approaches you, the input he gives you is the false-adulation. So if you are interested, take it and give back its equivalent without dissipating heat or leave it and make the point clear.
So what I have learnt is that be clear with giving your input energy. If you want something to be done for money, make it clear. If you do something to a person like fetching coffee as a token of love, do not expect anything but love back. It is not good to convert one form of input to another. Else heat will be dissipated and that is not good. Also when you return something to people, do it in the same form as they have done. There may be different forms of doing a service or expressing love, but make sure you are clear that you do not mix up the two unless you wish to get roasted in the heat it is going to generate in the future.
There are very efficient systems that convert energy to create magic but all of them generate heat. Heat is not good in a relationship. Be it professional or personal. So no converting of energy.
That’s it, that is what I have understood about this complex thing called expectation. As a twenty year old, I am sure that I have a lot more to learn about several things but this is it about one of the most important things for the decade that I just passed out of. There are several other unanswered questions for me still but they are not for today. I have entered another decade and I just hope that at the end of it, I have enough lessons to write a similar post.
Like I said in the beginning, this is just my version. If you feel that I have gone wrong at some places or have some good advice or want to share anything else or just a hi, do drop them in the comments section.
Until my next post, take care!