I’ve always felt like the world was set up against me somehow and that every little thing that could possibly go wrong always inevitably would. When the universe was on my side, there had to be a catch — as if there was something I had to give in return.
This has caused me to have a bit of a bleak outlook on life. So how in the world did I end up with such a mindset? I have the privilege of attending one of the most reputable universities in the world, adoring parents, friends who check in with and support me through every major and minor step in life and I live in a state consumed by sunshine (most of the time). How could any of that possibly have led to a girl who expects a negative outcome at every turn? It doesn’t add up.
Maybe it’s because I have so much good in my life, that the people who surround me are all such rays of light, that I expect there to be darkness in other areas of my life to balance it out somehow. Somewhere along the way, I became the very darkness I feared would creep up on me.
My fear of bad karma for all the good has led me to work myself three times as hard as I maybe had to. I feared getting bad grades, that my work wouldn’t be adequate, so I spent hours revising my papers when they were more than ready long before. I spent hours on my readings, analyzing and annotating everywhere I could, making sure I’d be overly prepared for discussions. I cleaned every countertop to a glossy shine as a waitress, made every cup of coffee to perfection as a barista, edited articles with an overly keen eye as an editor and put way too many responsibilities upon myself — especially as the oldest daughter of an immigrant family.
Day after day and year after year through countless cups of coffee and way too many nights spent crying myself to sleep, I’ve come to the (likely obvious) realization that I’ve set my own expectations unrealistically and unattainably high.
I set an image of myself I couldn’t possibly achieve. To negate all the bad luck I feared was coming my way simply for having so many wonderful people in my life, I felt the need to be perfect at everything I did — to work myself in circles so that I would be deserving of them. The time spent overworking myself was time lost with friends and family, missing out on memories I wouldn’t have another chance at. I didn’t want to lose all the wonderful people in my life through my attempts to prove to the universe that I deserved them — that would be entirely counterintuitive. There didn’t have to be some darkness coming my way to balance out all the good and I certainly didn’t have to create that balance by becoming that darkness myself, so I decided to make a change. While I still work hard at school and my job (I do still have career aspirations after all), I’ve learned how important it is to step back and make time for myself, my friends and my family.
I guess the moral of the story is that life isn’t only about achieving goals and there isn’t some imminent doom out there that will inevitably balance out all the good in our life. We don’t need to hold ourselves to these ridiculously high standards to feel deserving of that good. Sometimes good things just exist, with no reason and with no cost attached, and it’s absolutely beautiful and should be cherished — not feared. It’s been a weird journey for me to finally understand that but now that I do, I no longer see the necessity in holding myself to these high expectations. I’m deserving of good and so are you. So, go out and enjoy the things that life has to offer and make memories with all the wonderful people you choose to surround yourself with. I certainly am after being held back by my own expectations for so long.