197. Expectations

What expectations do you have for yourself? If you set the bar too high, you are vulnerable to disappointments and unhappiness…followed by frustration, anxiety, and stress. 

 Let me give you an extreme but actual example. When I was attending college in California, I engaged in a conversation with another student before class. He had such high expectations for himself that he said to me, “If I were ever to receive a B in any class, I would consider suicide.” I had high expectations for myself academically as well, and achieved a grade point average of 3.7 in my undergraduate degree at a mid-sized college in Northwest Minnesota. 

 But when I enrolled at the University of Minnesota in a graduate program, I thought I had suddenly become dumb, for no grade lower than a B would be credited to my degree, and I was struggling to achieve even that. I became frustrated, anxious, and somewhat depressed with my academic achievement.  Then one day I realized I was at a higher level in the educational ladder, like the difference between the minor leagues and major leagues in baseball, and I had best lower my expectations. When I did so,  I relaxed and earned a master’s degree in English Literature in less than two years – barely above a 3.0 average, but what difference does that make now?

 My advice is an old saying that sounds cynical, but it’s really freeing: “No expectations, no disappointments.”  

About Patrick Day

In 2010, I escaped from four long years of deep, dark depression. This blog shares lessons I learned from those years as depicted in my autobiography - How I Escaped from Depression - as well as other insights about depression and anxiety that only come from someone who has gone through it. When you have a heart attack, you become an expert in heart attacks. When you have diabetes, you become an expert in that condition. As such, I am an expert in depression, with a four-year experiential degree and graduate studies in how to live a life going forward that keeps the ever-lurking Depression at a healthy distance.
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