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Frumpy Middle-aged Mom: How not to be disappointed

I was reminded recently of how life really is all about your expectations. If you go to your favorite multiplex to see the latest blockbuster, and you expect it to be great but it’s only OK, you feel disappointed, right? But if you are dragged by the scruff of the neck by your significant other and think you’ll hate it, you are pleasantly surprised if it’s even tolerable.

And if you can learn to relax and roll with things, your life will be so much better. Since I became gimpy, people are constantly telling me I can’t do things. “You can’t go to Greece, there are too many hills.” Well, I went anyway and, guess what? I just stayed away from the hills. It can happen.

In Greece, I did not expect to be able to hike through the archaeological site of Delphi, where the Oracle prophesied (this is actual fact, not legend) and guess what? I could not. So I just plunked myself down outside the museum bookstore, read the new book I’d just bought and drank tea while my companions did the long, hot, grueling climb. Gee, I was so sad to miss it, especially when everyone came back down dripping in sweat and gasping. (It was August. It was hot.)

If you expected to get a gleaming new Mercedes for Christmas and you only received a Toyota Yaris, you’d be disappointed, right? But, this Christmas, I only expected to get cheap cologne from the Dollar Store. So the coffee mugs, fancy coffees and kitchenware not only showed that people know what I like, but also were definitely a step up from bad perfume.

I recently read an online review for a modest budget hotel. One reviewer hated the place, and complained that it didn’t even offer slippers with its bathrobe. Are you kidding me? Did it have hot water? Did it have clean sheets? Then chill out, bro. Next time, pay $500 a night for the Fairmont.

When I was a senior in high school in Utah, I was nominated by my school for a statewide award in social studies. This award was called the Sterling Scholar, and if you won in your category, you got to be on a special TV program saluting the winners in various fields. This also included a scholarship, but it was mostly all about honor.

I had to drive up to Salt Lake City to go to the first interview for the award. My parents really weren’t talking to me at that point (my teenage years were rocky) so my social studies teacher drove me up there and waited for me to finish.

I looked at the list of judges and noted that most of them were from Brigham Young University, which as you know is a conservative Mormon university. I assumed that there was no way I could win, since I wasn’t Mormon. So I just thought I’d enjoy the experience. I was so nonchalant that I wore a dress with a (shocking) halter top to the interview, and I was completely relaxed when I went in to confront a room full of gray, fusty-looking professor types. Pretty sure they were all men, though I couldn’t swear to it all these years later.

I sat in a chair facing them and leaned back. They started peppering me with questions. Since I wasn’t nervous in the slightest, knowing that I couldn’t win, I enjoyed the give-and-take.

“Well, Dr. Taylor, that’s an interesting question about President Roosevelt’s attempt to pack the Supreme Court,” I said, as I leaned back even further, crossed my legs and looked thoughtful. I proceeded to give him my thoughts on the matter with a little joke thrown in for good measure.

Afterward, my teacher and I went out to eat and then we went home. I expected nothing. That’s why I was shocked to discover that I had been named a finalist for the award, which required a second interview. It then occurred to me that I could actually win. And then I got nervous.

The second interview was nothing like the first. I wore a dress that by comparison made a nun’s habit look risque. I rehearsed possible questions before I went until my head swam. I twisted my hands and gnawed on my nails all the way to Salt Lake.

Well, I didn’t win the award, but I did get to be on TV as a finalist, and the University of Utah then offered me an Honors at Entrance scholarship, which paid my tuition. Again, my teacher drove me up to Salt Lake, since my parents were not interested. Mr. James Fought, if you’re out there, thank you.

I like to look at life’s challenges as a risk-benefit ratio. If the risk is low, then why not try? Even if you have no reason to expect anything. You risk the price of a movie ticket and hope the benefit will be an entertaining movie. Pretty simple.

But if the risk involves bungee jumping off a building, and the benefit is to get a thrill, well, I’ll pass. Trying to cut six lanes across the 110 freeway through downtown L.A. to get off at the Music Center is plenty thrilling for me. And it’s free.

I don’t expect anything less.

Source: Orange County Register

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