When expectations paralyze you

SEC Media Days took place last week in Birmingham. No collegiate athletic conference does a four-day press event like the SEC. Round-the-clock coverage of coaches and players speaking about expectations for the upcoming season.

I spent a year as a writer for a media company that covered SEC football. When you’re in-season, you editorialize how performance impacts recruiting expectations. During the off-season, how do recruiting classes impact expectations for the fall?

In a lot of ways, outside expectations of what my life should be is something with which I’ve really struggled lately. Expectations of how my job should be done. Expectations of what my personal life should look like. Expectations of how cancer should impact my life. There’s a healthy balance to be had; job expectations provide performance accountability. Clear expectations in relationships reduce conflict.

But there can come a point at which we let outside expectations impact how we live, how we treat others, and we allow negative thoughts and feelings to invade that will lead to stress.

July 20th marks five months since I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s. I started treatment March 28th, and within the first two weeks of that initial infusion, most of the symptoms I’d had subsided. I’ve felt great and been able to do most everything I’d wanted to do through the spring and summer. I’ve missed just one day of work. And I worry at times that others will see me and forget. Forget the weight of disease. Forget the intensity of chemotherapy. Forget the mental energy you exert fighting this illness that touches so many.

There have been moments I’ve let the expectations of the rhythm and pace I set for myself early on drive how active I remain. I’ve felt the pressure to not let anyone down by taking a day off or simply taking a break.

I fear that others perceive my journey with cancer has been easy or not as impactful as someone whose illness is terminal. I’ve been generally healthy during my treatment, but to me that shows that as well as I’ve rebounded, I was just as sick from October to February.

I want my story to mean something. Not for me, though. I want it to mean something so that others can see the faithfulness and power of God. I desire to tell others of the difficulty and battle I faced, so they can know now that I fought it and won, but that in my weakness God was strong.

My life is forever marked by cancer. And while this portion of the fight has ended far sooner than any of us could’ve ever imagined, the reality is that this chapter of the story is just being written.