So, here we go again. Another year of school. We have some of the same: waking up before the sun, parking spot dramatics, homework up to our ears, assemblies that run late no matter what, and being reprimanded at our inability to pick up trash. Every year at Chadwick is marked by some monotony. With the expected, though, we all have learned to expect some new. We convince ourselves that older is better, and therefore a new year means new expectations.
In high school, each year is fairly monumental in its own right. We know it to be so, and therefore we formulate a template for what each year should hold.
As a freshman, you expect to stroll in on the first day and start one hundred percent fresh. If you’re brand new to a school, or even if classmates knew you before, freshman year is the time to reinvent yourself.
Sophomore year is the time to work that new personality. Anything that you didn’t have figured out as a freshman is dead and gone.
Junior year we imagine as the academic apex of high school. Eleventh grade is when you start drinking coffee to keep your eyes open and you have five tests a week, but it’s okay because you’re getting into your dream school.
Senior year, well, is viewed as the epitome of the high school experience. Stress is in store, of course, over the college process, but other than that it’s the time to ease out of youth and into adulthood.
This is a sort of template for what we expect from each year in high school. “Expect” is the key word.
High school is absolutely everything but a planar experience that fulfills all expectations. Each year we go in thinking that everything will change, and that our lives will be monumentally better by the time the year ends. Speaking for the lot of us, that never seems to happen. Freshman year you won’t become a new person. The braces will not magically vanish and best friends won’t stroll into your lap. As a sophomore you will not get the world figured out. Junior year you can work hard and pull all-nighters, but you may not see that effort marked in the letter on the top of your test. As a senior we hope to be carefree and independent, but sometimes childhood tries to hold us back.
I am sounding pessimistic, but that’s not the intent here. The reason we get disappointed is because we have expectations. The expectations we view as something to reach and strive for are what give us the ache in the pit of our stomach when they haven’t been realized.
Let’s scale down a bit. Say you really want to watch The Lion King. You get your friends completely hyped and make a night of it. You order takeout and talk about how you can’t wait to watch the movie. Then, naively, you all stroll into Blockbuster and the tale of a young cub is nowhere to be found. According to the man who seems to live behind the counter, a five-year-old just rented it. There you go: disappointment.
If that didn’t work for you, think about sports. You are playing a team that has been less than stellar in the past. The practice before game day, like the opponent, is less than stellar. You all goof off because there’s no doubt that you will “Hondo” them. Game day comes, the players who normally play left bench grace the court, and the opponent sits on you.
Expectations lead to disappointment every time. In either of these situations, if you didn’t think the movie would be there and if the team didn’t think it was a shoo-in, there would be a minimal let down. Yes, you’re bummed, but instead of getting pushed down a flight of stairs you just trip down the last two.
But then, if expectations let you down, what’s the answer? Do we just stop expecting satisfaction from life? I’m here to say no. What we do need to do though, is find the happy medium. If we erased all goals from our life, where would the drive come from? I say make goals that you can individually control. If you can meet the expectations yourself, no matter what, then the amount of letdown is entirely up to you.
As school gets up and running, don’t let yourself get disappointed. Don’t let other people control your happiness. Instead, go find The Lion King yourself. It’s out there and you know it is, but don’t count on someone else to find it for you.