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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCD chapter.

I think expectation is my biggest enemy. In every sense of the word. Not only do I struggle with my own expectations of people, events, lifestyles, and myself, but I struggle with trying to understand the expectations of everyone around me all the time. College has presented me with so many challenges in so many ways, and I feel like I’ve handled most of them in stride. However, as graduation nears and I reflect on all the ways in which I have grown, I find myself stuck on this one major roadblock I’ve never truly been able to bulldoze: expectation. The word itself is full of it, inflated, huge and, unfortunately, ever-present. 

Coming from a small town and jumping into a college lifestyle was the first level of expectation I had to vault as a freshman. I think it is normal to have expectations going into such a major change, and I definitely did. Back then, college seemed like this foreign land that held all the answers: friends I would connect with on a level I was never able to before, academic stimulus and challenges that I was made to conquer, relationships that would sweep me off my feet and shift my world view, etc, etc. Looking back it’s almost funny now because it’s so obvious that life is not made to play out in a way you can imagine before it occurs. Life is naturally random and yet fated, it is chance and luck and coincidence and yet somehow everything feels weaved in a complex tapestry that cannot feel accidental. What I am trying to say is, life is infinitely better and infinitely worse than any expectation one could conjure. That didn’t stop me from trying, of course. When my freshman year had ended, none of my expectations were met. However, I don’t think I was truly meant to find any of the things I desired yet. I think I was meant to figure out what it meant to be me outside of my bubble of suburbia and perpetual aloneness, and that I most certainly did find in my first year of college. That seems to be the theme of my life, and maybe most people’s lives… you go out into the world seeking something and come back with something entirely new. If the world was a grocery store, I went out for eggs and came back with an existential battle between romanticism and realism, but didn’t we all? 

That first battle was followed by a series of smaller ones, other unmet expectations that acted as aftershocks of the initial earthquake. Just when I thought I finally understood how to grapple with my own expectations, when I was finally able to balance the joy of newfound successes with the disappointment of what has yet to come, when I rode the wave of hope with all of the perpetual melancholy it comes with, I realized there was an entirely different minefield I had been ignoring. I soon learned I was not just a victim of expectation, I was responsible for others’ expectations of me. I held some sort of power in my relationships I was never able to acknowledge before. As easy as it is to feel like life is happening to you, acknowledging that you are happening to other people is impossible to ignore once it’s been addressed. To me this has been the big elephant in the room since my second year of college, and something I am still struggling to figure out. It can be so difficult to avoid tipping the scales of your expectations of people versus their expectations of you, and to be truly close to someone without a level of resentment from one side or the other there must be some kind of mutual understanding and collaboration. This is no easy task, as it requires both parties wanting the exact same as the other. There have been friendships and relationships where I have found myself wanting more from them than they are willing to give me…and there have definitely been friendships where people have wanted more from me than I was willing to give them. It is this sort of unwritten code of conduct in every relationship you form and when you feel like you have the rules down, they may very well shift beneath your feet. I have never truly known how much or how little of myself, my time, and my secrets to give away to those close to me.

As I age I realize I definitely err on the side of caution, in many ways I am guarded and prefer to remain concealed in all the ways that truly matter. Part of me is grateful for that trait, but I can’t help but think I may have hurt some people along the way by constantly underestimating their level of regard. To be vulnerable enough to be the one extending that expectation, to take responsibility for my share of a relationship is… difficult. I find managing the disappointment of something not working out a lot easier than the possible overextending of my comfort and confidentiality. To be a good friend, a good daughter, and a good person means finding a balance between my expectation of the world around me and the world’s expectation of me. Some things can’t always align just right and that’s okay, but it would be a lot simpler if everyone could find the courage to at least try.

Hello! My Name is Madeline Malak, I am from Redding California and a third year at UC Davis. I major in History, but I have always had a passion for literature whether that be reading others work or writing my own. My favorite book is The Count Of Monte Cristo. Some of my other interests include movie reviewing, listening to music, and being super funny, cool, and awesome.