Of late, whenever I am asked if a certain experience has met or exceeded my expectations, I typically respond with a variant of “it is what you make of it.” There are two reasons for this.
First, there are certain experiences decide I’d like to go through. Whether that is marriage or graduate school, it doesn’t matter. It just matters that experience x passes my decision criteria at the time. Once I make the choice to go through that experience and assuming it works out, there is little point in going in with high expectations. Not only do these result in inevitable disappointment and unhappiness, they focus us too much on the past and sunk costs. Both of these don’t matter – we presumably made the best possible decision with the information we had then and sunk costs should be ignored anyway. Essentially, once you make it to wherever you want to go, all bets are off.
The second and more important reason is that all of life is a lesson in the idea that “it is what you make of it.” In almost any environment, my experience has been directly proportional to how much I give to it. The only choice, then, is how much I give or what I make of it. I could choose not to do much – and that’s okay. I could choose to do a lot – that’s also okay. But, it would be foolish to expect a ton from an environment where I am not engaged.
You can say all you want about how disappointed you are with your choice of job/school/partner. But, the fact remains that there are only 2 things you can improve – how you choose (books have been written on this and for good reason) and, once you choose, how much you engage.
Whatever “it” might be, it is what you make of it. Make it good, make it meaningful, and make it count.
Thanks to the source for the image