My parents always told me I could be anything I wanted when I grew up. “The sky’s the limit,” they would always say. The problem is I wanted to be an astronaut.
The reason jokes like that work is they subvert expectations. You expected me to continue on with the cliché “you can achieve anything.” Instead I subverted those expectations with the line about being an astronaut. The resulting consequence is comedy.
Life constantly pushes upon us expectations, from the mundane task of eating placed upon us by our own bodies to the expectations of homework placed upon us by school.
Expectations are varied to say the least. Some are essential, some are important, and some are difficult to live up to. Regardless, many expectations can lead to stress and frustrations. Just ask the Grade 11 about Science Fair… Even small expectations like completing a sheet of homework can get stressful if you have a lot of those sheets to do.
A lot of expectations or even one especially daunting expectation can leave people with stress. I'm sure everyone in this room knows stress well, and I’m sure everyone also has a way to cope with it. That's the thing with expectations: you have to face them, and you have to face their consequences. I fear “consequences” has a negative connotation, while in fact a consequence is just the result of an action. Consequences are just as varied as expectations.
Let me go through some expectations and their consequences to prove just how varied they are. Your parents expect you to do your best, you do your best, and as a consequence your parents get you a present. That is a good consequence, in case you couldn’t tell. Another example: your school expects you to get the big project done, you don’t get the big project done, and as a consequence your grade plummets. This is a bad consequence.
There are many more examples, but just know that every expectation comes with a consequence whether or not that expectation is subverted or fulfilled. Expectations present choices, more specifically the choice between two consequences.
To recap, expectations present two paths of action. The path that subverts the expectation and the path that fulfills it. Each of these paths have their own consequences. Seems simple enough, right? Yeah it is actually that simple.
I got you with that expectation thing again. You expected me to say “Wrong,” but it’s not. Some choices are complicated, and some are very simple. I probably sound like a record on repeat, saying “it's complicated” over and over again like high school sweethearts. That's the problem with life: it truly is complicated.
The good thing is that most people are good at dealing with life and its components. We get tools to make the choices and deal with the consequences. We get these tools from our environment, our parents, our brothers, our sisters, our teachers and most importantly our experiences. So next time you are talking to someone you learned a life lesson from, be sure to thank them because they are part of your success.
Expectations, consequences and choices are all complicated and varied. Many people fear these things, but they shouldn’t scare you. This doesn’t mean you should ignore them; you don’t want to be blindsided by an expectation you forgot about, like me and this speech during the break. Everything is manageable and with the right tools and more importantly the right mindset you can achieve any expectation, deal with any consequence and always make the right choice.