On the train ride home from San Luis Obispo to Orange County, I gazed at the moving terrain outside my window, bursting with anticipation. In just a few hours I would be home with my family once again. I could not wait to cook dinner with my mom and have a movie night with all of us cuddling together under bundles of warm blankets. The next day we would ride our bikes together to the beach and have a pick nick. Later that week sometime, my dad and I would go out for the usually morning coffee and bagels like the old days when I was still in high school. Before I left, my mom and I would surely escape for a girl’s day out of shopping and lunch at California Pizza Kitchen, our favorite restaurant. I missed being with my family very much at college and I needed these things to feel apart of them once again.
As the train moved onward, I sat waiting anxiously for the sight of familiarity—the sight of buildings and road signs that reassured me I was arriving where I belonged. Even though I love being an independent college student, I was living in a foreign world. My college friends were still somewhat strangers to me, compared to the closeness I have with my family. I often felt scared and alone those first few months away and I did not know anyone well enough to feel a sense of belonging. In just a few hours, I would be with my family and all those feelings would go away.
Finally home, as I ran through the doorway and surprised my mother with a big hug. Immediately, I began spouting out all my plans, starting with that evening’s dinner menu and movie selection. The first evening was fun, but as time went on, however, we did not get around to many things on my list. My dad had too many projects to do around the house and my mom was busy driving my brothers to sports practice and after school activities. A fear began to settle in my mind that maybe not even my family was as close to me as I thought. Frantically, my mind spiraled into confusion as I worried that my feeling of loneliness would not subdue.
Distracted by anxiety, I could not enjoy my time at home very much. Nothing during that short period of time satisfied my expectations—I did not even know what could anymore. It was an exhausting process, constantly hoping for things that never happened. Sensing my frustration, my dad sat next to me in the car one day, taking a break from the busyness for a little while to spend a little time with me. His gaze remained steady on me, and the expression in his eyes emphasized how much he cared to see I was hurting. Despite the fact it had not been apart of my plan, this simple expression of his concern was unexpectedly fulfilling.
I believe in letting go of my expectations. When I set aside my preconceived ideas of how things should be, life is better than I imagine. It is so much easier to accept what life brings, rather than to meet constant dissatisfaction in the hope of human perfection. I believe in letting go of expectations to give people the freedom to be human.
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