Cultivate Acceptance, Let Go Of Expectation
acceptance, n.: the action or fact of receiving something favourably; (of a situation, action or thing) the fact of being received favourably; positive reception, approval.
expectation, n.: a preconceived idea or opinion based on what a person has hoped for or imagined regarding a future event, situation, or encounter.
(Oxford English Dictionary Online)
Cultivate acceptance, let go of expectation.
From before I even arrived at university, I have been thinking of all the fun and exciting things I could do afterwards. Having not taken a gap year pre-uni, I planned right from the beginning to take one post. I still have the list on my phone of ideas I was jotting down:
- do a ski season as a chalet girl
- crew on a charter yacht
- work at a watersports place in Greece
- work for a Greek island-hopping boat company
- do a yoga teacher training somewhere warm
- raise sun bears or orangutans in Borneo
- write a novel
- write a recipe book
- move to Italy (Venice, specifically, or maybe Trieste)
- move to Austria (Vienna, one of my most favourite cities in the world)
- travel round Australia and all its nearby cool places
... and that's not even all of them.
The point of telling you this is to demonstrate the extent to which I was desperate to do something for myself - for once in my life not being shepherded from one segment of education and academia to the next, into a job, into a career, and before you know it you're half way to retiring and you've never done anything just for you. That's what I was (and to a point, still am) terrified of.
The problem was that I let this apprehension (it wasn't worry or concern so much as just apprehension) turn my big worldly plans for adventure into expectations. I had been saving up for whatever it was I might end up doing from the first moment I could, and had set my heart on them so intensely and so completely that it didn't really ever occur to me that I might actually not be able to follow them through.
Which is why, ridiculous as it may sound, there was a bittersweet feeling when I was offered a job. (I did warn you it sounded ridiculous.) I had been applying for a whole host of different things, all pretty varied because I had no concrete idea of what I actually wanted to do. (I'm writing this in the past tense as if I now do know what I want to do...) There's no disputing that the job I was offered (and have accepted, gratefully!!) in communications is pretty damn perfect for me and aligned with what I'm good at and etc etc, so it wasn't a case of not wanting the job. I definitely wanted the job, but at the time I just didn't want it yet. I wanted a year in hand, at least, to go and explore and see the world and do my own thing and tick some adventures off my list, before coming back and having to crack on with adult life.
Why? Purely because my hopes and dreams had got such a tight grip on my idea of my own future that they had transitioned sneakily and invisibly from possibilities to expectations. It was simply that I had had my heart set on them for so long that I hadn't even noticed that I was just assuming they would happen.
I'm not living in some dreamworld bubble, though (much as my family have told me otherwise, since pretty much before I can remember) - I know you can do these things at any time. And I know getting your foot in the door employment-wise is invaluable. And I know getting onto the first rung of the career ladder as soon as possible is an amazing thing to be able to do. And I also know that this job and the company it is with are completely and utterly perfect for me, and I cannot wait to move to Cardiff in July.
The misconception that got me off-track in the first place was this: the idea that a job does not count as doing something 'for you'. Who decided that? Because that definitely wasn't a conscious assertion on my part; the opposite - I wanted the job, and I knew I wanted it. Societal perceptions of working life suggested that someone's job and someone's pursuits to do things for themself are incompatible. All I had to do was zoom out a bit and realise that in fact, this job can just be added to that list of things I want to do, because when it comes down to it, it absolutely does count as doing something for me.
The journey from deep-down knowing all that to actually consciously recognising it came in the form of a glorious afternoon of resetting for the spring equinox with yoga, meditation and general self-reflection, organised by two wonderful amigos of mine. The whole thing was beautiful, but one bit really acted as a catalyst for change in me: we spent some time exploring what qualities or emotions we wanted to cultivate, and what we wanted to let go. Hence the title of this post.
Instead of expecting that I would automatically be able to go off and do all these adventures, my expectations loosened their grip and shifted back to aspirations, dreams, possibilities. I looked at where I am now and what I actually do have coming up in the future, I accepted it, and I realised that the two (my current situation and my dreamy situation) are not mutually exclusive - far from it. In fact, having a job already is exactly the right thing for me to be doing at this point in my life, and I should have trusted from the start that the universe would bring about whatever was right.
I'm beyond excited to start my job. I'm beyond excited for the opportunities it will bring. And I'm beyond excited for whatever lies beyond; whatever crosses my path and comes into my sphere, I will accept it without expectation because I'll know that that is exactly where I'm meant to be.
What's meant to be will always find a way.