We are people, navigating in a large world filled with expectations, hopes & dreams. I find that happiness is comprised when we share our expectations with other people. I do think it’s right to expect things, and hope to receive things like love, respect, and honesty. However, I just want to share that when it doesn’t happen, not to be surprised…
- Don’t be surprised when you are driving innocently down the road minding your business and someone drives by and cuts you off. Not cool, but try not to react. Just try. I recently did react, and it got me in trouble. The crazy guy ended up following me on the freeway for a while, I had to call the police. Reacting to bad behavior is never a good idea. Lesson learned! As a woman in particular, I was really scared. I also had both kids in my car. As a responsible driver, I just think we always have to take the high road. I really wanted to roll my window down and give him a good talking to, but I knew my toddlers were scared and absorbing the situation. I wanted to show my son and daughter what a calm, strong and street smart person does: not engage and call the police!
- Don’t be surprised if a neighbor doesn’t greet you on a walk. People have tunnel vision, and don’t necessarily see passed their own front doors. They just focus on their lives, and might not be aware of their surroundings. Even if they are aware of their surroundings, maybe they aren’t that nice, or friendly and want you to know by ignoring you. Yes, people have different prerogatives and for some winning a popularity contest isn’t on their agenda. It’s not you. Don’t think about it. Move on.
- Don’t be surprised if and when your parents ever lie to you and never admit or are defensive about it, and are unable to apologize to you, because you are the child (even if you’re fully grown). That’s how some parents operate. Oh well. This goes beyond the scope of parents, but anyone you love. I suppose you can just drop them all together, or just accept their super flaws and know how to navigate around people like that. People are tricky, sticky, and at times just icky. I suppose we all can be.
- Don’t be surprised if someone sick really does expect you to stop what you are doing and make chicken soup for them. This is the best time to exercise compassion, consideration, selflessness and empathy. You lose a little, you fall a little behind, your life is paused…be prepared for it mentally and physically. It happens. I often get anxiety thinking about when the time comes to care for a loved one who is sick. As a woman, I feel the caregiver title is heavy and at times burdensome. It freaks me out all the people I care about and would pause my life for. But rather than looking at it with fear, I look at it as a blessing. It’s a blessing to take care of someone who needs you. That’s my new approach. End of story.
- Don’t be surprised if your infant child doesn’t sleep more than a two hour block and you will be a a cranky parent for having your sleep broken for many months, maybe even years. Very few people talk about the “dark side” of parenting…there is a dark side. Lack of sleep is a huge culprit to it. Be prepared and have a plan to counteract it. Mine is the little moments of savasana I steal in yoga. Those 5-10 minutes on a yoga mat have become my salvation. Of course I prefer my comfortable bed and 8 hours of sleep. But I’m not getting that, and I’m done complaining about it. No one wants to hear it. So instead. It’s my yoga membership, my mat, and a few moments to catch up and reset and restore.
- Don’t be surprised if your toddler draws on your walls, pees or poops on the floors, or throws food. Own a pet before you decide to be a parent. And while you’re at it, live with your potential spouse before you get married. I mean it. It’s not something you hear a Muslim girl talk about typically. But I’m of the opinion, you meet someone you like them a lot, you both should have the best intentions for a long term life together, so move in before you tie the knot! Then, get a pet. See how you both do with the pet. It all starts with that initial moving in together.
- Don’t be surprised when someone brings you a gift. So nice! The best time to gage your own generosity and ability to reciprocate.
- Don’t be surprised when your “friends” laugh at you, not always with you. These “friends” will talk about you. Pick your friends wisely. Being wise takes time…you might not pick great friends until you are in midlife. If you do end up having great friends by your side since childhood, appreciate them, love them, be courteous and cherish them. Never take for granted a solid friend. We’ve heard it before, you don’t pick you family, but you can pick your friends.
- Don’t be surprised if people are selfish, self obsessed, self absorbed. Human nature. Sucks to witness it, but it’s a sad truth.
- Don’t be surprised when humans are kind, compassionate, generous. Also, human nature. What a treat and absolute pleasure to witness. Shower those people with praises, hugs and kisses they deserve it, and might even need it. Never hold back a compliment or praise. Who cares if it goes to there head. Get it off your mind and into theirs.
- Don’t be surprised when people misunderstand you. Work on your communication skills better. Speak more clearly, look at them directly, use logic and reason and let them digest your words. This is a skill, also takes time!
- Don’t be surprised when people you love don’t heed your advice. Give it and walk away. The rest if up to the person.
- Don’t be surprised when you mess up. When you do or say something that questions your character. Instead talk about the f-ups in life aloud. Admit them, show your vulnerabilities, and your growth. Even if you f-up multiple times, f-ing up is part of the journey of life, but how you handle it is what makes the f-ups worth it. I hate it f-ing up. I wish I were f-up free. But I’m not. Instead of moping about it, I find that if I talk about it (kind of too frequently, sorry to my family & friends who have to hear about it!) I humanize myself and I love myself more. I love myself for forgiving myself…but I still hate f-ing up.
Especially to all my awesome women out there. I’m speaking to you, to us. Some of the above are never talked about, there is no handbook or manual to life as a female or simply life as a human and how to protect and preserve our spirit.
So, I say, live life with eyes and ears open, and your mind aware to the realities of human nature. We all have good, and unfortunately we have bad. The person witnessing or receiving it should try their best not to be affected and rather live a life expecting good and bad from him/herself and from others all the while recognizing the bad. We can’t totally eliminate some of the bad we have but we can definitely tame it and not be surprised when we see it.
I started to think about this more, when I would see the sides of people (and myself) I didn’t like. I would toy with the idea of not being around them anymore. Then the thought of not having that family member, or that friend, or that person I loved, would bother me. I started to make myself understand them more, and be forgiving of their particular character flaws. But I always have to check my own behavior too. I’m not always at my best, so it comes down to who is willing to deal with me and who am I willing to deal with. If it ever gets too bad and results in an unhealthy environment or relationship, then I tell myself “not to be surprised” and teach myself to be independent and nonchalant enough to let it bounce off me.
Because, again, we are people, navigating a world filled with expectations, hopes & dreams…I do think it’s right to expect things, and hope to receive things like love, respect, and honesty. However, I do want to share that when it doesn’t happen, don’t be surprised…
Valentina Khan, JD, MA is the Managing Director for Investors Philanthropic. She was born & raised in Orange County, California. She grew up in North Tustin, a supportive and kind town to which she attributes her love for diversity & doing community work. She is a graduate of the University of Southern California Bachelor of Arts, received her Juris Doctorate at Taft Law School, & continued her education with a Masters of Arts degree from Claremont School of Theology. She is the visionary and co-founder of I Am Jerusalem, & was a contributing member to the Interfaith Youth Council of Orange County, both of which are non-profit organizations that focus on building bridges of understanding, compassion, and friendship within the interfaith communities. Valentina is the creator & teacher of Dance Barre ® a fun ballet barre fitness method, a yoga enthusiast, and lover of fashion and travel. She speaks five languages: English, Spanish, Farsi, Urdu, and (semi-fluency) French.