Just like the picture above, beware expectation. This could be full beer left behind by an inebriated patron, or a full glass of warm urine (and if memory serves, a testament to my aim and nefariousness).
As far as travel is concerned, there is nothing more disappointing and heartbreaking than having that trip, the one you’ve been dreaming of, simply not living up to your sky high expectations that ultimately leaves you sad, wondering what the hell happened and looking for answers. What went wrong, I had everything planned?! I had all these amazing places I was going to see and I knew exactly how I would feel once I was there!?
No you didn’t, idiot.
You’ve researched your holiday destination intensively, thoroughly, intimately. Through all the images, travel guides, and holiday blogs you’ve digested about where you are going, you build up this idea of what you’ll be doing, the type of people you’ll meet, and the fun and adventure that you are guaranteed to have. The longer you have to wait between booking the trip and having the fasten seat belt sign come on, the worse it gets. The expectation snowball reaches critical mass, increasing with it the potential for gravity to collapse and form a black hole of your disappointment. Why did you set yourself up for this??
Enter the ‘Ah ha!’ moment. I think you’ve pinpointed the problem. Why the set up? Did it help you? Did it improve your adventure? No. You feel shitty. You feel let down. Why didn’t everything go the way you planned, the way everyone said, wrote and described that it would. You were certain that good times would roll every step of the way. The pedestal of expectation that you placed your hopes and aspirations on was a little too high, out of reach when the time came to collect.
I just want to say it’s OK, all is not lost. At one time or another we are all victim to the silent killer that is expectation. We may not be conscious of it, we may not have realized when it crept in, but now you know what to look for. It’s OK to let it go. Free yourself of rigid expectation. Open yourself to the idea anything can happen, good or bad, and you are OK with that. How many times do you look back on holidays, and you notice the tough times, the uncomfortable moments, rise to the top of your memory and become your fondest recollections, your most shared travel anecdotes with friends and family.
When was the last time that the lowest point of your trip turned out to be the most adventurous and satisfying moment for you. When you were able to push through it, to come out intact (with most of you possessions and limbs), and be wiser for the new lessons that you learnt, and a new insight to your inner strength of character that you never knew existed?
You don’t book those moments through Expedia, I can tell you that.
I for one hate being let down. Hate it. The root of this is generally unrealistic expectation. I’m not saying expectation in all forms is toxic, just make it realistic. Reading a book on Rome, taking in all the experiences and interactions of the writer, does not ensure that you too will meet the Pope, find love at the base of the Spanish Steps and have all your wishes come true as you flick coins into Trevi Fountain (if you can find space to do so between all the loiterers). We’re not going to eat the most amazing pizza because we are visiting the country of its’ birth. We’re more likely to have our pockets picked and realize pizza in Italy is pretty much just a tomato base with basil for toppings. Forget those Western beasts where the base cannot support the toppings without having to use both hands to maintain the slice’s integrity. The writer or vlogger may have had a sponsoring budget, an agenda on the type of picture they would paint of the destination, and a completely different set of expectations and values to boot. This is a version of their reality, not necessarily yours.
So if I can impart any sort of words of advice, wisdom, or downright instruction, keep expectations realistic. Things will go right, things will go wrong, and only how you face this is what matters. Don’t let unexpected twists and turns blind you to what is actually happening in the moment. Embrace the unexpected, and enjoy the adventure that is unique to YOU.