Living Foolishly & Expectations

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So, when I was first on Facebook (sixth or seventh grade) I joined tons of groups.

…It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, I was a part of a group that was “You were attractive till you put a cigarette in your mouth” or something like that. It was my way of getting to voice my beliefs to the outside world of Facebook, populated by mostly other middle schoolers. At that time, my beliefs were pretty much the same as my parent’s beliefs and my grandmother’s beliefs and my friend’s beliefs and my church family’s beliefs. (At least, the loud members of that family’s beliefs.) I never really experienced a rebellion because I was always squelched when I did. The most rebellious thing I did was write a paper on gay rights in my junior year English class in high school. I openly talked about the fact that even though I’m a straight Christian, I feel like it isn’t okay to deny the right to marry to any two consenting adults to my friends one night at my house, and my parents overheard. They were pretty upset with me for this, and demanded that I went back to my friends to tell them that I didn’t believe that being gay was right. (Apparently they only heard “gay” and freaked out.) So, I went back out to my friends and told them exactly what my parents had asked me to say. But my friends understood me, and we went on with life. It’s still something that my parents periodically try to convince me I’m wrong about, but I’m not budging from my views.

Well, now I’m in college, and I’m old enough to smoke, so I’m expanding my experience a bit. Part of the thrill of smoking is the chance of getting caught. My best friends and I will smoke a cigar every now and then, but we make sure not to do it too often because we’re more terrified of getting hooked than of getting caught. But the best part of smoking a cigar? I can tell you what, it isn’t when you get smoke blown in your face because you’re standing with your face to the wind. It’s the fact that I am finally doing something stupid. Something reckless, something that is generally frowned upon. This has led to a few other sporadic moments of stupidity. Like going to Guitars (a local dance/bar) the night before my 8 A.M. final in Western Civilizations, or like standing up through the sunroof in my friend’s car while going 50, or like deciding to go on and tell my friend about this guy that I had a crush on even though I kinda feel like that’s bad luck, going to see R-rated movies, staying the night at guy’s houses, and carrying a pocket knife in my back pocket pretty much everywhere I go [I know, John Bender would be proud, right?]. I guess I’m just trying to live more and more foolishly because I don’t want my life to have been always cookie cutter. I want to be able to relate to people I work with, and I want to say that I didn’t always try to exceed expectations.

Expectations kind of suck. They’re there to motivate, but a lot of the time they end up just confining our minds and our spirits to little boxes. Some boxes are tall and slim, like when you are expected to do great things…but as a certain person in a certain way. Some are long and squatty, like when you’re confined to class, gender, or racial expectations. When you’re put in a box, it’s natural instinct to try and break free. For example, you never, ever, tell a little kid not to touch something, because the first thing that they’re gonna want to do is touch it. Because I said so is just about the worst reasoning there is – and that applies to all ages. I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with being bossed around “because I said so” style, and unfortunately that’s pretty much what I’ve gotten for most of my life. It’s like people get so tired of having to explain themselves when they feel like they shouldn’t have to that they just stop trying and just say “I said so”. Heck, I’ve done that before as a counselor at camp I’m sad to say. Doesn’t make it right though. If anything, it backfires. 

Take, for example, banned books. I have two theories on people who ban books.

Theory 1: They’re a bunch of stuffy old men who are so concerned with how they think things should be run that they forget that people need to be free to think for themselves. Or they’re genuinely concerned and feel like this is the best way to go about things.

Theory 2: They’re the freaking coolest people ever. Their thought process is

  1. People who change the world/have the capacity to change the world are people who write banned books and/or read banned books.
  2. Banned books are going to be more appealing to people who want to cause change than other books.
  3. Why don’t we ban books that are potential catalysts for social change so that we get these people to read them.
  4. BOOM. WORLD PEACE.

I would like to think that they fall more in line with Theory 2. But Theory 1 is still very plausible, and either way, the thought process of people of the Theory 2 variety is in play. Because “because I said so” doesn’t work. Expectations don’t work. We need to be free to be foolish, to make stupid choices, to smoke and fight and go to bed at all hours of the morning because we need to make sure that we are making our choices for the right reasons.

That, I feel, is why God gave us free will. Who wants love to be programmed? Or making the right choice? He wants us to do what he wants because we want to, because we think it’s right. Not because it’s what is expected of us or because we have to. And the same should go for us, human to human. We need to realize that we’re going to make stupid decisions, and that our friends, brothers, sisters, parents, our children are going to do the same.

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