“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”- Margaret Mitchell
SEL Connection- I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen students build themselves up with expectations about an upcoming exam, only to find that their performance fell short of what was expected. It’s interesting to see the different reactions. Some students brush off the setback and recharge for the next challenge. Others sink into a quasi-depression with a diminished capacity to try the next time. It’s not only in academics but in sports and social life too. Students build up enthusiasm for a date, or for that homecoming game against the arch rival. Expectations have their way of captivating student imagination and focus. But they’re dangerous.
(1) Claim: Clearly, Margaret Mitchell isn’t naive about expectations. It’s interesting that Mitchell refers to life as if it is a person. But, often, we treat life as just that– a person who is obligated to give us things, rewards, good luck, whatever. Nonsense, she says. Life cares little about who we are and what we do, and certainly we shouldn’t be spending time expecting things from it.
(2) Counterclaim: Yet when we put so much work into life, maybe we should expect certain things back from it. It is not unreasonable to think, for example, that if we put effort into our job that our job will reward us with a promotion and higher pay. In this way, life is sort of like a transaction partner. You put energy into it and you get rewards out of it. Mitchell sounds almost like somebody who has been defeated by life.
(3) Essential Question: “Should expectations in life be something internal (based on what we control) or external (based on what others give us)?”