No Expectations: Words of Wisdom

The silly story of how I learned to have no expectations

“If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed.” ~Sylvia Plath

When I was young and naïve (i.e. stupid) I always had high expectations for everybody.  I was surrounded by good people, so it was only natural that I expected everyone I met to be kind, honest, trustworthy, and sincere.  Of course, I didn’t know what all those words meant at the time.  I just expected everyone to be nice to me.

All that changed one day when I was rudely introduced to the art of deception.  While walking down the street I approached a rusty blue van with no windows in the back.  The side door slid open abruptly and a disheveled bearded man in dark sunglasses and a tightly-fitting gray overcoat asked me if I wanted some candy.  He told me he would give me a delicious lollipop to suck on if I got in his van.  Expecting only the best, I climbed in.

You can only imagine the horrors that awaited me within the shadows of that decrepit van.  The lollipop he gave me was purple-grape.  That’s the worst flavor!  It wasn’t delicious at all.  In fact, it was awful – perhaps the worst piece of candy I’ve ever eaten.  I was disappointed and disillusioned.  I didn’t know if I would ever trust another person.

Creepy Van - No Expectations

The scene of my bitter disillusionment.

With this incident I lost my innocence.  The happy little boy who trusted everyone became cynical and suspicious.  I could no longer expect everyone to be good: there was evil in the world!  I decided that I would never be on the side of evil.  I would never be the sleazy man in the creepy van handing out foul-tasting candy to wide-eyed gape-mouthed innocent children.

Beginning at that young age, I developed a keen sense of what is right and what is wrong.  Not only did I strive to be a good person and do what is right in any situation, but I also became concerned with my relation to others.  I didn’t want to do anything (or fail to do anything) that would disappoint or upset anyone around me.

As I grew older, I began to think that my own personal code of conduct should be adopted by everybody.  If everyone thought, acted, and lived like I did the world would be much more harmonious.  Of course, when I attempted to impose these expectations on others, I was only disappointed and frustrated.  I realized that I could set high standards for myself, but I could not reasonably expect others to live up to those same high standards.  Every person sees the world differently, and their interactions with the world are influenced by this unique viewpoint.  All I can do is live my life the best way I am able and accept other people for who they are – even when who they are is totally opposed to who I expect they should be.


If you have any thoughts about expectations, I expect you to leave a reply below.

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