Because journeys trump dashed expectations

Sometimes our hopes that turn into expectations don’t quite live up to the hype we give them.

And that’s actually not always a bad thing.

It’s been such a joy to see their love story unfold.

I spent the holiday weekend in Northern California for a wedding and was able to explore San Francisco for a bit before I went up to Wine Country. While I lived in Orange County for more than a year and a half, I never made it up to the Bay Area during that time. I had always heard about how fascinating it is, so I was excited to experience it.

My sweet friend Tara had given me a few ideas of things to do, one of which was to visit Coit Tower, where you’re able to see the entire city in a 360-view from up top. I made the trek up there and was enjoying seeing all of the different people on the streets as my made my way to my destination. One thing I kept thinking was that people who live there must have really great quads—those hills are no joke.

When I finally made it to Coit Tower, I wasn’t exactly expecting there to be a line or a fee. Clearly I was living in some type of fantasy land—the line wrapped around three different corners, and I learned it was going to cost me $9 to step into the elevator. I decided to go ahead and pay and wait because I was really curious to see how amazing the views were. I kept thinking about this quote from the Hannah Montana movie: “Life’s a climb, but the view is great.”

I had been standing in line for a while and was probably still about 15 or 20 minutes away from being able to go on the elevator when an employee began walking down the line asking for a single rider. FINALLY, ANOTHER PERK OF BEING SINGLE! I quickly let him know I was riding solo, so he took me to the front of the line to squeeze on the elevator with a group of three people and a few other couples. The man controlling the elevator began telling us a little about Coit Tower and expectations for when we got to the top. If I ever need a hype man, he’ll be one of my top candidates. He made everything sound amazing.

When the elevator opened, I began climbing the last set of stairs to get to the top. My heart filled with anticipation that I can’t really explain—I think that there had been so much build up that I was expecting something more magnificent than I could even imagine. I took the last step to the top, and I tried not to let the disappointment take over.

This is it?

It was only $9 and time you’ll never get back, Nat. It’s fine. You’re fine. Everything’s fine.

Nice $9 views

Sure, the views were beautiful, but the whole experience wasn’t as glorious as I thought it would be. I walked around the tiny loop, snapped some pics, stared out into the water we were overlooking, and then moseyed back down the stairs to the elevator.

As I began the trek back to my car, I gave myself a pep talk to try to make sure that I didn’t spend my whole walk disappointed with what had just happened. I know that I have high expectations for many things in life, and it’s certainly a letdown when one of them doesn’t pan out as I originally hoped, but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth the work to get there.

I thought about how much I had enjoyed the walk there—the sights, the people, the brief conversations I had with strangers, the artwork along the walls and sidewalks, the hills (it’s a love-hate thing), the weather, the ability to walk in the beautiful sunshine without sweating like a haus, the stories behind each unique door I passed. All of it.

No, not everything is going to be as we expect it to be, but that doesn’t mean that the journeys we take to get to those desires we have are wasted. I didn’t waste time in that line—I invested in conversations with other people and gave my mind and body some time to escape from all of the pressures and worries I’ve been dealing with lately (I have a lot on my plate right now). I didn’t waste money to ride an elevator and see a city from above—I invested in other people’s careers and in a city that provides a number of amenities for a countless amount of people every single day (I actually have no idea where the money goes, but that’s what I’m choosing to believe).

This is where people were taking couple pics together, so I figured I needed one, too. Of me.

Even though I’ve been as single as a dollar bill for basically my entire life, I have high expectations for what I’m looking for in my lobster. And I truly believe that it won’t end up being like my Coit Tower experience. At the same time, I want to make sure that I’m appreciating this journey along the way. I don’t want to waste my singleness by wishing that I weren’t single. I mean, I got to cut in line in front of a bunch of people because they’re all in relationships or traveling with other people, and I’m not. That’s a pretty sweet deal.

We all walk different paths and are able to go through different experiences in life. They don’t happen by accident, and we are where we are on purpose and with purpose—I fully believe that. So why not try to enjoy the moments we’re given without constantly focusing on what’s ahead? It’s great to have hopes and expectations and to imagine what those fulfilled hopes will be like, but it’s even better to be fully present and to let yourself enjoy every breath that you’re given.

Yes and amen.

Sure, “life’s a climb, but the view is great,” but it’s that climb and all that you endure through it that help you become the person you were always meant to be.

Just ask Hannah Montana.

Because you might miss out when you’re scared you’re missing out

Some of the most valuable things I’ve learned have come from the most unlikely places.

You know, like Urban Dictionary.

I used to have my students to help me out with the latest lingo and snazzy expressions people are saying these days. Since I’ve been out of the teacher world, the struggle has been real for me to keep up with all of the hip quips. If I want to know what something means, I usually have to resort to Urban Dictionary.

One thing I’ve learned is that FOMO refers to the “fear of missing out,” and I think it’s a pretty legit abbreviated expression because it’s very true—certain things truly do make you feel like you’re being left out of some really great memories. I mean, just open up your FaceBook or Instagram app, and take a look at all of the fun events and activities your friends are a part of, and you might experience some of the symptoms of FOMO.

Why am I not there?
Why are they having so much fun without me?
Why was I not invited?
Why did I choose to sit at home when I could be out with them?
Who is that new person in this picture with my friends?
What if I’m missing out on some really wonderful memories?

There are just so many questions that come along with the FOMO moments.

I must admit that I’ve had many FOMO times in my life, even before it was a hashtag. When I was in high school, most of my friends started dating, and I sat back and waited for my turn (still waiting, by the way). It was the same story in college and after that, and then everyone started getting engaged, and I felt like I was being left behind.

When I went through all of those issues with my kidneys recently and wasn’t able to run much, I started to feel like I was missing out on a lot in the local running community, especially because I had to miss out on a some of the bigger races I love running. I still haven’t raced in almost a year, so it’s been rough.

Not thinking about what I’m missing out on—pondering important things, instead

Since I moved to California, I’ve definitely had my fair share of moments of feeling like I’m missing out on some really great things with my people back home. When I see pictures of my friends, I want to be there with them. When my sister texts me pictures of her with my mom, I want to hop on a plane and go take a selfie with them. When my brother sends me pics of my sweet niece, I want to rush over to their house like I used to every weekend and hang out with them.

I recently had to remind myself, though, that if I spend so much time thinking about what I’m missing out on elsewhere, I’m actually really missing out on the moment right before me.

No, I don’t have a husband or a boyfriend or a date to anything ever, but my singleness has never actually gotten in the way of my life. Maybe one day someone will fall in love with me, but if he doesn’t, then I can’t let that stop me from dancing on my own and enjoying every moment I can.

No, I haven’t gotten to race or be anywhere close to in racing shape in quite some time, but for some reason or another, I needed that time away from all of that. I needed to slow down a little, and I reached a point when I realized that my main focus needed to be on enjoying those moments when I wasn’t hooked up to IVs and in so much pain that I couldn’t even get up to walk without it being a struggle.

No, I don’t live in Texas anymore, but there are a lot of great people and great places in California, and I don’t want to miss out on them because I’m focusing so much on what I’m missing out on somewhere else. God called me out here for a reason, and I’m going to trust whatever it is and not what it’s not.

The wise and poetic Hannah Montana said it best: “Life’s what you make it, so let’s make it rock.” You can’t be everywhere with everyone all of the time—you only can be where you are in the moment. None of us knows how many moments we’ll get, so it’s important to be present and to make each one count.

Because if you’re so busy letting the fear of missing out get the best of you, you’re actually missing out on more than you know.