Expectations more often or not lead to disappointment for they are usually based on external circumstances out of our control. At some point during fall training I decided to relinquish all my expectations for the year to come to save myself from disappointment. That is, I thought I had until an expectation I didn’t even know I had smacked me in the face. In early December, after suffering a painful stomach ailment or several weeks and after consulting several doctors and the Global Citizen Staff, it was decided I should seek medical care back in the states. It was at that point I realized the expectation I had failed to clear from my brain before arriving in Senegal. I had fully and whole heartedly expected to be in Senegal for the entire seven months of the program. Crushed by the disappointment of this lurking expectation, I really did not know what to do with myself. So after more than a few tears and making our Senegal country director promise I could return when I was healthy, I boarded a plane back to the United States.
It has been almost two months exactly since I stepped on that plane, and I am, as promised, back in Senegal, settling back in with my family and host community in Dindefelo. It’s strange that while an expectation caused me so much strife these past two months, the things I never would have expected have brought me the greatest joy. I never expected I would like it so much here. I never thought I would connect so well with my family and miss them so much when I left. I never thought I would want so badly to return to Dindefelo, to see my garden, and to work in the hot sun. I never thought I would forge such strong connections and I never in my wildest dreams thought I would miss sleeping in a mud hut. But I did. And therein lies the trick to having or not having expectations. The things you do expect tend to bring disappointment and the things you never would have expected bring surprise and delight. What my experience the past two months has taught me is to take your disappointed expectations with your head held high, because something unexpected will soon bring you joy.