It’s hard not to have a lot of expectations and assumptions about what my nearly 3 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa will bring. Expectations about the weather, the food, the residents, the clients, the social workers, my classmates, my overall experience. The thing is, I feel that one of the most important things about embarking on a new adventure is to suspend all expectations, assumptions, and judgments about what the experience will be like. Judgments and assumptions are often wrong, and expectations can be shattered in a single moment, leading to disappointment or confusion.
My experience has often been that going in with expectations, positive or negative, can affect the openness you have to a topic, event, or person. If you expect to have a great time, you probably also have some expected details related to how that will happen: who will be there, what will you do, where will you go? If those details aren’t in play, you may prevent yourself from having a great time when you normally would have. Coming into something with negative expectations is even worse. If you expect to be bored, uncomfortable, or miserable, you probably will be, or at least find a way to convince yourself you are. The best way to approach something new, in my opinion, is with excitement and openness, but no specific expectations.
That said, OF COURSE I have some expectations about what the trip might be like. I have made assumptions about my fellow travelers, the environment we will be in, and the work we will be doing. Some of these are getting me excited and some are making me nervous. I am actively working to let go of many of these pre-conceived notions and be open to wherever my adventure takes me. In the meantime, I’ve come up with a list of expectations that seem fairly harmless and serve to psych me up about my trip. So, without further delay, my top 5 expectations about my trip to South Africa:
- It will be amazing, in all ways.
- I will not get Ebola (it’s 8000 miles away, people)
- I will meet new people
- I will learn
- I will survive.
In expectationless excitement,