Early mornings usually are the best time for writing. Today is one of those days for me. I gulped down my pre-workout, went to the gym, worked out, and now I’m sitting at Starbucks listening to circuit music via my Beats headphones. It’s a Monday morning, and the sun is about to rise over the Atlanta skyline. I’m still scratching my head at how all of this (my journey back to Atlanta) came to fruition. This isn’t what I would expect for my 2019, among many other things that have happened in my life over the past year. No, this isn’t going to be a part two of my previous editorial; I think it’ll be good to talk about the new year and how we should manage expectations.
Facebook seems to be the place to remind friends just how horrible or how great 2018 was. It’s in the form of a book, five or so paragraphs with details written for one’s diary. It’s entirely personal which is how it should be, but it seems to be a recurring phenomenon. People post their life triumphs and failures over the past year, promise for a “new year, new me” and wait for people to encourage or reassure that things are just fine now and for the future. Are we creating unrealistic expectations to which we can never live up to?
I’ve always refrained from planning more than a month ahead. I guess it’s from a constant let down in my past with my expectations of what something should’ve been. It became an exhausting challenge to rebound after something didn’t go as planned. I was let down, discouraged and frustrated. Soon I began sabotaging what little hope I had left of a positive future. I’d intentionally talk myself out of going out with friends or traveling to different cities because I’d had too many let downs from previous journeys. I’d tell myself on January 1 that “this year would be different,” but it was always the same me.
I thought, “how can I change the outcome of my adventures before they even happen?” It’s about having an open mind, not to set any expectations for what a trip was supposed to be or what memories I was supposed to make. It was a challenge because I was mostly keeping my mind clear of pre-planning how something played out. We all do it. We all plan what we’d like to do, who we’d like to see or meet, and the fine details in between.
Here’s my perfect example: In 2016, I embarked on my first Atlantis cruise to the Caribbean. It was the largest gay cruise ever to set sail; more than 5,000 men from around the world on one big ass ship. I mean, who wouldn’t have expectations for the parties and for men. I planned costumes for the week’s themed parties, packed my speedos, and made sure I had everything to put me in the perfect state-of-mind for seven days of dancing. I’d heard so many stories, saw so many pictures, and made up in my mind that my experience would be just like others before me.
It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I had an emotional breakdown before we even left port and had to call a dear friend to help me through my fears. My expectations of certain friends did a nose dive into the warm waters of the Atlantic. I thought daily, “please get me off this ship, I want to go home!” Once I stepped back on dry land, I swore I’d never set sail again. I swore off anything to do with circuit parties or anyone that experienced them.
Several months later, while living in Palm Springs, several friends from that previous cruise invited me on another one. I think I said hell no when they first asked. I was not about to waste money on another cruise just to experience the same sea-sickening catastrophe, but it was a friend’s birthday. I reluctantly said yes and pushed all hope into my one-word response because I wanted to enjoy the trip. I confided in several guys from our cruise group about my previous excursion. They reassured me; this time would be different. It was a smaller boat, about 1900 guys, and the trip was expected to be a little more laid back. I remember one friend telling me, “just go with the flow, have an open mind, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
Long story short, I let go of expectations and created my adventure as it happened. Were there some expectations? Yes. Did I organize my entire trip based on expectations? No. I allowed myself to breathe each breath and dance to each beat without a guide. Maybe I’m the only one whose expectations have gotten the best of me in the past. Maybe others are struggling with the same quandary at the start of every year.
I’m not saying let go of all expectations but let yourself live a little. It’s ok to have hopes but don’t let them confine you to what should happen. Moving back to Atlanta, I’ve realized to loosen my expectations because it won’t be like it was when I lived here before. Just like my cruises, lose the expectations, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at just how much fun is waiting for you around the corner.