As You all know I am a self-help book junkie and my latest acquisition is Gary John Bishop’s “Unfu*k Yourself.” I must admit I expected a book with a curse word in the title to have a little more impact and was left wanting more – more substance that is. However, he does raise some good points in his book and one of them being on the topic of expectations.
Bishop states in his book, “I contend that the upsets strewn throughout your life are a product of thousands of unspoken or unrecognized expectations that cast a giant shadow across your life experience, causing great stress when you’re trying to make life fit with your expectations and great disappointment when life doesn’t match up to them” (Bishop 171).
A great example of when I tried to make life fit with my expectations and it resulting in the greatest disappointment of my life when it didn’t match up was my education. I expected that I would excel at four years of an undergraduate and graduate on time but life threw me a curve ball known as bipolar disorder. When entering my fourth and final year I experienced a psychotic break with reality and was diagnosed with Bipolar. I was left with an inability to focus or retain information due to copious amounts of lithium and olzanpine coursing through my system. This is a huge no-no for anyone trying to study a memory intensive subject like I was of Art History. I returned home defeated and slumped into the biggest depression of my life where I did not leave my bed for months on end and could not keep up with simple hygiene like showering and brushing my teeth.
This upset was definitely due to an incongruence between what I expected of my life and what reality was. I could not get my life to match with my expectations and as a result was left completely devastated. It would take me years to recover from this defeat and realize that maybe life had something else in store for me and to accept the unpredictability of life and be thankful for it. For example, my experience with mental illness left me more aware of its commonality in the community and left me with more insight into the nature of bipolar disorder and how to manage it properly. I can now share my experiences through this blog to hopefully reach out to somebody and maybe help them understand their situation a little better. I have the ability to let people know they are not alone and that is truly a beautiful thing.
Bishop also asserts in his book that, “It’s much more powerful to come to terms with life’s unpredictability and to engage with your circumstances for what they actually are then get bogged down by your refusal to let go of unnecessary or unproductive expectations” (Bishop 175).
It was a hard pill to swallow but I needed to learn through my experience with bipolar that life does not always go according to plan as I was under the illusion that if you prepared enough you could always end up where you inevitably wanted to go. I felt like I was slapped in the face hard with this reality check but it was a realization I needed to have in order to be able to cope with the changes that occur in life and the upsets. When I let go of this notion that I would have a bachelor’s degree by 22, I opened up many more doors that were more productive and cohesive with my life. I realized I could be a spokesperson for bipolar disorder not only through my blog but through the novel I am working on and hope to have published in the future.
It was also important that I let go of this expectation because it was causing a spiraling depression that I seemed to have no control of until I thought “Ok, maybe that did not play out the way I expected but you know what I may be able to now do something more powerful as a result of my experiences with bipolar like empower others to speak their truths.”
I am going to end this blog post with a quote from Bishop’s Unfu*k Yourself, “On some occasions you have to realize that the game has changed (sometimes dramatically so) and you need to pivot. Deal with your reality” (Bishop 176).