We hold onto a vast amount of expectations, though we may not always be aware that they even exist. We have expectations in and for everything. Expectations can disappoint but expectations can also create greatness.
I am learning that holding to expectations is a balancing act. Expectations should be high so that greatness can be achieved but also fluid enough to deal with life's complexities and disappointments. I once heard that best attempts are made with great expectations. We need to expect great things in order to attempt great things. I love this and try to remember it when I am afraid to try. I remind myself that with each attempt, the fear of failure lessens.
I became a mother for the second time recently and with that, life changed. Expectations grew bigger and scarier for me. I worry in a way that I never did before. When I was single and traveling, I was fearless compared to how I am now. I didn't care as much about what happened to me like I do now that I have children. I want to protect myself for them. However, I also want to raise my children to be courageous and take risks.
I want to continue to travel and to provide my family with experiences instead of things. The gift of travel was one of the best gifts my parents gave me and I want to do the same for my kids. I want them to have amazing, life enriching experiences in life and in travel.
Epic experiences in travel happen when the traveler begins with great expectations and books the trip. If the trip isn't taken, the experiences are not had. The traveler stays home. On the other hand, if the traveler books the trip but has no expectations or only very rigid ones and does not open to the experience that travel provides, it is also as if he or she never left home.
Greatness in travel comes when we learn to be vulnerable. We can travel to face our fears such as the fear of being alone, the fear of trying new things, and even the fear of failure. Travel can make facing some of these fears easier as it is likely we won't see those we meet in traveling again. It is far away from our homes, from our work, and from those we encounter on a daily basis. We are freed to take greater chances and to open up. It is only through risk and being vulnerable that we learn to give and to receive. We can learn immensely about others and ourselves by opening up to the world. If we expect to give and to receive, it will happen. If we expect only our needs to be met and to have things exactly as we want, we may never learn and we are certain to be disappointed.
We have Expectations for us as individuals, for our families and the world around us. How can we better expect to understand the world without traveling outside of ourselves? How can we expect to change things for the better if we don't get outside of our own lives? When you open up to others and to experiences, others will open up to you as well. No one shares his or her inner self with those who appear to have it all together. It is when you open up about your own fears that others open up to you. After I wrote about being widowed, it seemed as though people everywhere started to share their inner secrets with me. Those who have only seen the Instagram photos of my travels have a very different view of my life than those who know me well. We don't know what lies behind the surface and we can't expect to unless we dig deeper.
The older I get, the more I realise that I don't know. However, the little that I do know I hold strongly to. I believe it is good to be ambitious, it is good to travel, and it is good to have great expectations while also holding loosely. Expect great things, attempt great things and life will be better than if you hadn't. Adventure can be other than climbing of mountains. It is heading into the unknown and unexpected. Take the risk.
Photo by Sarah Wauterlek Photography