…Is low expectations. I’ve been mulling this one over for a while now, although it makes me sound like a total pessimist. Let’s say it’s your birthday and you’re expecting your significant other to throw you a surprise b-day bash complete with cake, beer, and gifts, but then it doesn’t happen. Instead you come home to an empty apartment to eat ramen noodles by yourself, slurping the soup loudly because no one’s watching. Naturally, you’re bound to be a sourpuss and feel like your dreams have been dashed, when gosh, darn it, people are supposed to make a big fuss about the fact that on this cloudy day two-oddsome scores ago you were BORN, screaming “I am alive!” (not in so many words) and immediately demanding to be heard. However, if you don’t expect ANYONE to remember your birthday, if it would be a total shock to your system for your best friend of 15 years to call you on this random day, or for a cake to be thrown in the oven in your honor by a mother who doesn’t bake or a boyfriend who burns everything, then you might be pleasantly surprised. The same could be said of applying to college, or getting a job, or playing sports, or pretty much just about anything.
Take me, for example, going up against CHC in a friendly/competitive game of basketball. I never expected to beat him. He kept being annoyingly accurate by making layup after layup, essentially elbowing his way to the basket. I, on the other hand, shrunk back from close contact and shot the ball from outside of the in-zone, or whatever it’s called. However, my aim was much better. I was like a kid who hadn’t picked up a slingshot hitting someone square in the eye, every time. Finally, I beat him, 11 to 9, a close call. I was ecstatic and proceeded to brag. He was totally deflated. His expectations were much higher. He didn’t expect to be beaten by someone six inches shorter than him, who couldn’t even pull off one layup, and who was a girl, a girl! Yes, one with a second X chromosome.
Aim for the stars but have your expectations in the gutter. Then, when you fall somewhere over the horizon you’ll be more or less happy that at least you landed above ground.