Great Expectations

A few months ago I had written about how a lot around us can be explained as a series of patterns. Today, I wish to broach the topic again albeit with a slightly different lens.

Each time we undertake an action or experience something, we, consciously or sub-consciously enter the arrangement with a pre-conceived notion or an expectation, that we measure it against.

So much so that I am inclined to state, without trepidation, that our state of happiness or otherwise can, almost always, be described as a net outcome of the delta between expectation and reality. Just as entropy always increases in the universe, human beings keep on constructing more frameworks of expectations and drive towards reducing this delta.

It starts even before you arrive into this world. Your parents conceive you. Your mom is now expecting. Then the world expects her to be cautious with you in the womb. Then the doctors and your parents expect you to come out at a certain time, and any delay or advancement in time causes chaos or a caesarian.

Then you are expected to talk and walk by the time you turn one. Subsequently, you are expected to attend formal school, be well mannered or be labeled a brat. Sometimes things do not go very well with your kin telling you that they have no expectations from you anymore — which only reinforces the enormous weight of expectations because there is no better proof of the strength of the presence of something than the announcement of its absence.

Then there is work life. Do you exceed expectations or meet them, or even fail to reach that bar? This is pretty much what determines your promotions, your appraisals and your career trajectory. Why is all that important? Because you have certain expectations of how these are going to shape up — even as far as knowing how they should look 30 years from now.

Dilbert always gets it.

Then come relationships. From the familial to the romantic. Years ago, I asked a friend what they meant when they said they were ‘dating’ someone? The friend had, very succinctly, put the commencement of a relationship in two words — exclusivity and expectation.

Though I think this was brilliantly put anyway, more than expectation, a relationship brings with a certainty of the expectations being met. In pretty much all walks of life, we set up systems around us which help us achieve this — minimise uncertainty in the fulfilment of expectations. A stable job, marriage, buying your own house or car, adding buffer money to e-wallet.

A lot of people confuse expectation with hope. That’s a grave mistake.

If expectations are the steering wheel of life, hope is the ignition. Life and this earth would be a vapid cauldron if there were only the course of expectation (as Huxley put forth in his Brave New World). Without hope, the sweeper’s kid would never go on to become a post-graduate, no tail-ender would score the winning runs on the last delivery and Tinder would absolutely run out of business.

Just as, right now, contrary to my hope of writing more in this post, I don’t expect myself to come up with any more meaningful matter on this topic. So, I will leave you, the reader, with all the questions and musings I presented above.

Also, my bosses expect me to be in office on time tomorrow morning. And as I see the clock right now, I can only hope to be able to do that.

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