I was raised to expect. If I was to do something, I was to get something in return. It was an engrained mechanism, a way of thinking that emerged as soon as I regurgitated a correct answer in the classroom and was rewarded with stickers, 100 percent marks, a promise of future success. Life was an endless transaction of motivations, actions and assumptions based on the sole idea that the determination of my personal merit and self-worth relied in how much I received. It was a fine balance, measuring how much to give and its impact on how much I was to gain. This cycle of bargaining implemented itself into my every action; my movements and thoughts were minutely calculated in order to maximize what seemed to me to be the most profit. If I spent an extra hour studying for chemistry instead of getting dinner, it meant (or so I thought) that I would probably be able to get a 5 instead of a 4. If I chatted with my friends an extra hour I would lose some sleep but I would not have to suffer from my fear of missing out all night. Service was often seen in the same manner. In participating in service, I subconsciously expected something, if not a college boost then a release from stress or a way to feel good about myself. (I feel as though we have a serious tendency to emphasize our need for self-rewarding over the needs of the actual people we are engage with in community service.)
Naturally with a mentality that could only expect a predicted outcome in return for my actions, acceptance was not one of my strong suits. When a circumstance that I had not predicted came as a result of my actions, it felt like a flaw on my part; an error I should have anticipated but that I hadn't thus rendering me as irresponsible at managing myself and my future. Even worse was when a circumstantial issue out of my control forced an event into my life. Instead of acceptance, I felt helplessness. A thing not going according to plan was terrifying, and accepting the matter was the very last of my priorities. I panicked, I rationalized, I blamed, but I did not accept.
"Accept everything expect nothing" stuck with me at first because I had noticed the extremes after each action word in the phrase. The polarizing nature of the words "nothing" and "everything" seemed excessive to me, especially since I stray away from absolutes because I often find them limiting. That being said however after reflecting on the phrase and its meaning, it began to resonate with me. When living a life full of expectations and preconceived notions, it becomes impossible to fully accept the situations that may disturb our predictions. When I expected an outcome and something unexpected occurred, I was trained to try to fix, solve, reject the situation instead of "going with the flow of life" and accepting. Andover emphasizes living a life of expectation; your success (which by the way is defined in a very narrow manner) is dependent on the effort you put in. All actions are made with the expectation of a positive outcome. I have come to realize through the phrase "accept everything expect nothing," that a transactional lifestyle is not sustainable. In order to fulfill this idea of happiness that we all seem to be after, we must let go of expectations, and only then will we be fully ready to embrace everything life has to offer.