Perspective Study

Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...Image via Wikipedia
A close friend of mine is also a third-year law student, in a school that is much too far away.  But he recently started devoting some time to keeping in touch with his loved ones via letter-like emails.  I say letter-like because these emails are not quick, one-off, largely superficial communiques.  (In other words, nothing like the kinds of messages I send in my desperate attempt to keep in touch with the many people I have been lucky enough to know).  Instead, his emails are substantial, deep, and theme-ridden.  And beautiful.  They're a pleasure to read and two paragraphs from the last one I received struck me particularly hard:

a snow train blockade in Southern Minnesota, USA                                    Image via Wikipedia
Seems my life is covered in snow. Meteorologically speaking. This is the second time in as many weeks that we have had over seven inches of snow on the ground. I'm getting pretty sick of digging my life out of this goop. Guess it could be a metaphor for my life too. Snow is supposed to be pretty. Makes everything look better. But at the end of the day, its just heavy. And everywhere.

Take law school for instance. I'll be graduating with a J.D. in less than 4 months. I'll be a lawyer in 6 months. That used to mean something. More and more though, it just feels like an anchor around my neck. Everyone always tells me to count my blessings.
I have insane amounts of education. Good health, etc. etc. etc. But right now it just feels like snow.  Like something that's supposed to be pretty, but ends up just bogging everything down.
He's right, of course.  We are blessed with the curse of excessive potential.  I've come to learn more and more that the source of my discontent (which, in turn, is the source of my unfortunate personality modifications) is a disconnect between my expectations and my reality.  Recently I've realized that I react poorly to changed expectations, especially when the change comes from circumstances beyond my control.  I turn the blame inward, stress out about it for hours or days, and emerge at a whole new level of controlling/anxious/manipulative/depressed.

when expectations are reversedImage by psyberartist via Flickr
"Expectations Reversed"
Before I sound like someone you'd play a tiny fiddle for, let me explain that I know this "curse" is a blessing.  I might struggle for a few years, but I do have the tools succeed, eventually.  I have been railing against my own expectations because I feel entitled to have all the things that I want, but the reality is that I already have more than many people in this world ever will.  I don't belittle the work I've done; I deserve what I've managed to obtain for myself, both personally and professionally.  But while I may be entitled to earn my greatest hopes, I'm not entitled to have them handed to me.  At this moment, it's my job to make the choice that is right for us now, not the choice that I expected to be right when I started law school three years ago, or when I decided to go two years before that.

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