How often have you wanted to do something but been held back by your fear? How often have you been told "just try it" or "once you do it once it will be easier"? I think these experiences are common to most of us. Whether or not each of us were able to push past our fears and realize our rewards will vary greatly for each of us. I have spoken about fear, and overcoming fear in the past. Today I wanted to touch on what lies beyond fear that we likely never expected. I'm not talking about the fear, or the failure. I'm talking about the curse that often comes with success. I call it "The curse of expectations".
A great example of this result of unexpected success is a life experience I observed back in high school. The experience wasn't my own, it was a friends, and much of the experience was told in confidence so I'll keep all involved anonymous. My friend was a great hockey player, and was a leader on our local team. He had speed and skill, and might have gotten close to the big show someday. One day during a game my friend was getting roughed up by a player who was a well known "goon" (fighter) at the time. A tough player my friend wasn't going to be pushed around. He was however shocked, when the other player dropped his gloves and began hitting him. We each deal with fear in different ways. My friend turned his fear into rage and turned it all on this other player. He was in a fight he didn't expect, and even less did he expect he would wins decisively.
It should have been a relief to my friend to have triumphed in a situation he didn't desire. What happened instead was people saw something, and now they expected to see it again. The fights kept coming, and my friend kept winning. The team was a loser almost every night but each night he stood toe to toe with the others teams best and out did them. Soon he had beaten all in the league. Late in the season a trade was made by another team in the league bringing a player all the way from out of province. This player had the reputation of being a monster, brutal, enormous and unbeatable. The news papers a week before the game posted articles declaring that my friend would defend "The Title" on Saturday night against this imported giant. It was all anyone could think about, it was all anyone could talk about.
I must admit that I was surprised when my friend told me he wasn't looking forward to the game. He was afraid, always was, always had been. It was sheer terror in his heart that had given him the strength to win that first fight. Since that day he had only made it to the third and final period twice all season. People thought he was getting kicked out because he was just to hungry for the violence, they thought he couldn't control it. He confided in me that he never liked it, it was the waiting, the expectation that drove him nuts. This week would kill him more than any other. Expectations, that was the curse he carried.
When the game finally came I was unable to make it as I had to work that night. Still it was all I could think of. How would my friend do? What if anything was going to happen to him that night? If cell phones had been around at that time I surely would have appreciated it. As it was I had to wait several hours before getting the news. My friend started the fight during the pregame skate. The crowed erupted, as my friend again stood victorious. He was kicked out (possibly suspended, I can't remember) before the game even started. Of course our team lost the actual game, but no one cared about the game, only the defense of "The Title". The crowed spoke of how crazy my friend was, how he couldn't wait to rip the other guy apart. My friend told a slightly different story. Certainly it was true that he couldn't wait. He told me he knew it was coming, but the waiting was what killed him. He could wait any longer, needed to lift the burden from his back and didn't care about the consequence.
Shortly after that I graduated from high school and we went our separate ways, never kept in touch for long. All these years later I'm glad that I've never been in the situations my friend found himself in. Like him I have to some degree began to feel the burden of expectations. As you are likely aware I recently wrote a novel. I wasn't sure that I would finish and all around me would be please just that I had. As it turns out some were more than pleased that I finished. They told me what I wrote was truly great, they told me they can't wait to see me do the same, or better on my next novel. I feel very confident that I will please the world again very shortly. I do however feel that curse of expectations. If I do it a second time, they will expect a third, and so on. While it is clearly a different arena than that where my friend was cursed with expectations, I wounder inside my own mind if many of the days ahead in my life will be lived to satisfy the curse of expectations?
The Blog of Timothy Weatherall
Timothy Weatherall is a fiction fantasy writer from Ontario, Canada.
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