When Things Don’t Go As Expected …

I have learned from the rottenness of people, from the despair of life, to keep my hopes high and my expectations low. And when things don’t go my way, to immerse myself in the disappointment and frustration, and allow the raven of despair to rest but never to nest.

Humans are a control-freak species. Even our playthings did not escape our taste for micromanagement. Why even Exploding Kittens has a “See the Future” card. We always itch for the future, yet we are afraid of the uncertainties, the slippery slopes, the many risks that dot the strange land of tomorrow.

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For every job interview, every new work, every start of classes, every encounter, we have been conditioned to have expectations. But we grow to experience that most of our expectations do not stick and that we are more disappointed by the day. Or maybe we just become good at settling down with what we have.

When things don’t go as expected, it’s easy to lose one’s head. It’s harder for those who function by checklists and gears of time and project management. A miscalculation not only spells disaster for their journey, it also messes up with their character. Let me tell you this, everything that can possibly go wrong will go wrong. But the opposite is also the same, that everything that can possibly go smoothly, will go smoothly.

It’s easy to go your way when the weather is fair and the sun is fine. But rainy days are a different story. So, my friend, what do we do when things don’t go our way?

Know that the disappointment did not come magically as if through the whims of a flying spaghetti monster. It is the result of deliberate actions and the paths taken by different forces in your situation. You may be aware or not of these people or other factors, but all the same, it does not change the fact that they were caused by something in this world. This teaches us the value of personal responsibility. Whatever we say or do affects the outcome of things, for us and for others. We are actually in control, in control of our own actions and responses to what happens to us.

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But things are easier said than done. Human feelings are not so simple. We cry over spilled milk despite the advice. We cry for the moon even if we’re told not to.

Let me tell you this: the job you didn’t get, the date that didn’t push through, the rejection, the relationship that ended, and all the seemingly irrational and painful troubles of life—at that point in your tiny existence—is the best thing that life can give to you.

We are all too human, both in the positive and negative sense of the statement. We have been so conditioned to think that the only choices we have are those what we want and those that we don’t want. We confine ourselves in this duality that leaves us with little to no possibilities of joy, of hope!

Think, instead, that the rejection, the denial, the postponement, actually saved you from a worse situation. Not all doors are meant to be knocked-on-to and opened. Some people, in love with a piece of meat, make the mistake of marrying the whole pig.

When things don’t go as expected, accept the moment as it is. No, you don’t have to be happy. No, you’re not required to be optimistic. Not everyone wants to be all smiles even over the bad things of life. You are in control of your response. Pick up yourself because no one will do that for you.

Learn, therefore, to face life like a boat out in the open sea. We are given the chance to learn, to prepare our sails, pack our supplies, and choose our company. There’s nothing wrong if you want to go alone. The waves and winds are not respecters of anyone but we are given the choice whether to push through or go back, whether to drop the anchor or tear through the raging waves and piercing winds and to pursue the original path or accept the storm and find an alternative path.

Amor Fati. Love of Fate. It means to let life run its full course in you in whatever way or form possible. It doesn’t mean blind and passive fatalism. It doesn’t mean hopeless resignation. It means that we are given the chance to experience life in all its fullness. Happy and sad, success and failure, acceptance and rejection, these are but parts of the journey of the same life.

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Amor Fati. Love of Fate. I am glad to have met everyone that came my way. It’s true I’ve been disappointed most of the time, but I would have never met the next person if not for the previous one’s disappointment. I would have never learned the next lesson if I did not proceed accordingly. Like Pablo Neruda, I look forward to the day when I shall be able to say, “You make me thank god for every mistake I ever made because each one led me down the path that brought me to you.”

Amor Fati. Love of Fate. It means to trust yourself and be responsible for the actions and the paths you take. It means that you are actually capable of enabling yourself to be happy, to be fulfilled. It means that the answer can actually be found in the question and that the breakthrough is in the obstacle.

And so the next time that things don’t go as expected, adjust your sails and live your life to the fullest.


Dom writes for pay by day and writes for passion by night. He is a Japan major at the University of the Philippines. He’s fond of ramen and anime but not of nice people.

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