Monday, May 19, 2014

Great Expectations

Yesterday I read a piece written by Brene Brown (one of my idols) for The Oprah Magazine (Oprah - another idol of mine). It was about how our unchecked expectations cause us to experience shame and resentment. She recommends not having expectations for outcomes you can’t control. She says the only expectations she has now are the ones she can control – like the way she handles herself. If I learned anything during my 8th grade year it was that we have zero control over what happens in our lives. Mater Dei High School was not in the cards for me no matter how much I had planned and talked about being a student there. Brene Brown hit the nail on the head when she wrote “unchecked expectations are loaded with potential shame and resentment bombs.” I definitely experienced both of those emotions after not having my expectations of Mater Dei met. I learned a difficult lesson in how life doesn’t always go as we expect. (And this was definitely a lesson I was going to learn over and over again in my life.)

So picking up where I left off…One of our family friends had a son who graduated from Servite (an all-boys Catholic High School). When my mom shared with them that Mater Dei had turned me down, they told her about an all-girls Catholic High School called Cornelia Connelly School of the Holy Child Jesus (or Connelly for short). Sometime before 8th grade ended, I had an interview at Connelly with the Curriculum Director, Sr. Beth. I was extremely nervous as I sat there answering her questions, especially the question “Why do you want to attend Connelly?” I don’t remember what I said but I do remember that what I wanted to say was “Well, Sister, because Mater Dei rejected me and I don’t wanna get my ass beat in public school.” Sr. Beth reviewed my Entrance Exam scores for Mater Dei and after the interview told me that I would be placed on a waiting list. I would know sometime in July if I had made it in.

In the meantime though, my mom took me a few weeks after 8th grade graduation to register at our local public high school. I was petrified just getting out of the car. I prayed “Please God, please let me go to Connelly. Please don’t make me go to public high school. I don’t want to die.” I had to take a placement test and afterward, I was given my class schedule. As soon as I saw some Honors and AP classes listed, I knew I was toast. I wondered if maybe I would make friends easily with the other nerds in my classes.

On July 19, 1984, I received news from Connelly that they ACCEPTED ME! (Don’t think I’m some freak…I only know this date because I just looked it up in my old journal.) I was ecstatic! Halleluiah! Praise God! Thank You Jesus! Maybe high school wasn’t going to be awful after all! Sure, it was scary imagining going to a school where I wasn’t going to know a single soul AND it was disappointing that there wouldn’t be any boys around… but trust me, I preferred that over being thrown into the scary dungeon full of bullies that I pictured public school to be.

My acceptance letter from Connelly

The rest of that summer was pretty standard for me. We went to the beach, to Vegas, to the Argentine Club for a couple of dances, to Tijuana in the motorhome, and shopping. (My mom bought me my very first lipstick that summer.) We made several trips to the library too (one of my favorite places). Of course we also went to my dad’s shop to hang out in the little room in the back where I spent most of my time devouring my library books. I also got a "body wave" that summer. Remember those? They were a baby step toward a full-blown perm. Lastly, I developed a major crush on a boy. Anyway, by the time high school started, I was feeling like a real teenager; like I was growing up.

At the Argentine Club with my mom and dad
BEFORE my "body wave"

Even though this photo is from 1985, during my Freshman year,
I'm including it anyway because I think it's hysterical!
This was inside the motorhome, on our way to Tijuana with friends.
We brought CHAIRS for friends to sit on while driving 200 miles.
I sat on the sink and the kid next to me on the counter. WTF?!
What you can't see is that there were probably
at least another 7 or 8 people in there with us.
Lastly, please ignore my white bra showing.

The week I started this blog, a friend asked me what it was going to be about. Uhh…I don’t know. I told her that I’m doing this for me for now. I’m not focused on the end results. I’m not approaching it *yet* with any outcome in mind. I’m open to whatever happens happens. In other words…no expectations. I told her that all I know is that this is something I want and need to do.

Without having read Brene Brown’s recommendations, I already knew that if I had any great expectations I would be setting myself up for disappointment (and shame and resentment as she mentions). I know that I can’t control if anyone reads my blog; or what anyone thinks of it; or how many “likes” I get for it on Facebook; or if I am judged for it. I know that the only things I can control are what I share; how much I share; and the way I share it. I find myself questioning those three things a lot lately. It’s not easy putting myself out there like this – being so vulnerable and opening myself up to shame, ridicule, and judgment all over again just like I experienced in elementary and middle school. But here’s what I learned then and I tell myself now: If I was strong enough to survive it as a kid, then I am certainly strong enough to survive it now as a 44-year-old grown-ass woman!
I’ve become quite the professional writer too. I bought myself a little notebook last week and whenever I think of something I want to write about, I jot it down. How's that for professional? This blogging thing has turned into a serious task for me! I am having a hard time figuring out though where to go next with my story. When do I tell which parts? I ask myself will it make sense if I bring this or that up next? Am I going to bore people to tears with what I’m telling them? Is what I’m sharing relevant to what I’m trying to convey? At some point, this shit is gonna get serious and it won’t be so funny anymore. Will people still want to read then? Am I establishing my back story properly before getting to the “heavy stuff”? Can I tell my story without naming names and without hurting other’s feelings? Maybe the “others” will never find out that I even have this blog! I contemplate this crap every flipping day now. But then I ask myself this: if I’m doing this without expectations, then does any of this even matter? I’m sure my five loyal “readers” (AKA friends) will be ok with me writing my story in whatever order I see fit and revealing whatever I am comfortable sharing. Yes, it’s scary to be so vulnerable in this vast, infinite place called the Internet, but like the name of my blog reminds me: I have the courage in me to do it - or at least that's what I keep telling myself.

Interesting tidbit...In my second blog post (A Mother of a Story), I mentioned how dates are very important to me and how the 1st of the month has had many significant events for me. While looking through my old journals for this post, I came across the date of my 8th grade graduation - June 1, 1984. My son was born on June 1, 2004, exactly 20 years later.

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