Tag Archives: Expectations

Act without Expectation

A few days ago, I was just checking my notebook to see where I had left off in my free-writing sessions from just a week before that (it was from May 21st). It was a strange self-motivational mantra, pressing me to act upon my feelings, with a strong sense of urgency about it. On top of that, these are some stuff I wrote on the same day, which I decided to read fully again today. I normally never let anyone else read anything I free-write. I’m even leaving it completely unedited, as it reflects particularly well how I felt that day:

“After so long, after so much effort, I realize that I’m still the same as before. Even worse, can it be that I am actually regressing? For a while, I really thought that things were going well. Sure, I had my ups and downs, but I felt I was improving. But today… today I just feel bad about myself. Today, I truly believe that I will never be ‘normal’, that I will always be like this. Why? Why do I feel like this? I wish I knew. I wish I knew why I feel like such a loser.”

“Still, I need to believe that things are going to work out in the end. I need to trust myself, trust that I’m a good person, and trust that the fact I’m really trying that in the end I will succeed. Even if I feel like it’s never going to happen, I need to dig deep and find that hope.”

“I don’t understand. Why do I feel so bad today? I just want to tell her that I like her, without feeling scared, or feeling stupid.”

Of course, this is always how I feel, but on that specific day, it was much stronger than normal, and there was an unusual sense of panic and foreboding gnawing away at me, which I was unable to explain with my usual self-negativity. It was weird; I couldn’t get rid of the feeling no matter what. It prompted me to scribble down the above words hastily, and to reassure myself through that self-motivational mantra. I tried to convince myself that that there was hope still. Unfortunately, the sense of dread turned out to be prophetic. Since then, it seems like I have gone through a lot of different emotions, and when I read it again, I was truly surprised that it had only been little more than a week ago. It felt like ages ago.

I already knew beforehand that my chances were low, but the moment you actually realize that she had chosen someone else still hurts a lot. I felt sad, depressed and lonely, and for a while I seriously thought it might be better if I stopped seeing her entirely. In the days after that however, I realized that it wasn’t true; I still care about her no matter what, and not being able to see her at all is something I am not willing to think about yet. Strangely enough, it was when I saw her again that I felt more strongly about this; I was afraid that I would be bitter and unfriendly. It was as if I was able to focus again on what is important for me personally, instead of dwelling on the negative thoughts. Maybe I’m just being naïve or maybe I am just deceiving myself, and maybe it will turn out that I have made a terrible decision, but this is what I believe at the moment.

This is the situation I was referring to in a previous post about the Tao Te Ching, when I mentioned that I was struck by the phrase ‘Act without expectation’. I have tried to adhere to this principle, but it is difficult to act without expectations for different reasons. Firstly, I believe it is a part of human nature to always expect something in return, no matter how noble your intentions you believe them to be. Secondly, when you act without expecting anything in return, doesn’t it provide other people the opportunity to take advantage of you? Lastly, it is also easy to confuse hope with expectation. You can have hope, should always have hope, or else you’ll fall into a spiral of negativity. But expecting something in return is altogether different. It is when we expect something in return that our selfishness starts taking precedence over any altruistic motives we may have had initially. In the end however, perhaps none of the reasons truly matter, and it may boil down to this one single question: if for some reason I can know absolutely for sure that there is no hope at all, what would I do? And that is a question which I have to answer for myself. Do I choose for what I believe in, or do I choose for what I think is the ‘rational’ choice?

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