01 December 2010

Unfavorable Expectations

I figured out what I want for Christmas this year.  So if you want to get me one, just hold on to it until I get back to the States, since I won't be allowed to use it here until I am released from service.  (Thanks, you're the best!)

I've been having some bad luck with expectations lately.  Cooking expectations, project expectations, and other expectations more or less dramatic.  It should come as no surprise that stresses one faces in Peace Corps service have a tendency to sneak up on you, even when you are actively resisting their effects.  It's like continuing to hack down the same weed in your yard over and over, even as the roots spread out underground and unnoticed.  In my case, these stresses have come in the form of falling short of my own expectations, even expectations I had previously regarded with little concern.  As readers will recall, I've been very pleasantly surprised with my cooking ability, enjoy the freedom, experience and experimentation, and at a rate of two nights per week I'm not burning out of it quickly either.  But I noticed something last night after frying barbecued chicken legs: I was disappointed that they weren't better than they were.  This despite the fact that for a spur-of-the-moment decision to cook them, and for my second try at frying barbecued chicken, they turned out very tasty and mixed very well with the fresh vegetables and rice.  Yet I was hoping that they would soak up a little more of the barbecue flavor.  Really, they just didn't have enough time to marinate, or else they no doubt would have.  But the results were very satisfactory all things considered, and I shouldn't have allowed myself to feel down about them.

Similarly, I have some faulty expectations with a project at my school attachment.  The library reorganization project was and still is a challenging undertaking, pitting me, my best efforts, and a handful of students against a room full of disorderly and dilapidated books with a lot of inertial resistance to change.  So what if it took more than that first day to unshelve, sort, label, catalog, and reshelve all 1000+ books?  That doesn't mean our first efforts were any less fruitful just because we did not completely finish on that day.  I recognized, even at PreService Training, that marrying my own expectations of my performance on projects with the expectations of my counterpoints would prove challenging for me.  I know now, as I feared then, that my own expectations for myself tend to be higher than practicality will allow in my situation.  My timetables are far shorter than the typical Kittitian approach to productivity, and while I have not faced any particular resistance to setting my own schedule for things, I have been left disappointed when unable to finish a project in its anticipated time allotment.  This is ultimately harmful to my morale and to my motivation in proceeding with the project, and all because of my own presumptions of what defines "productivity."  So when I ask for prayer for patience, this is what I mean.  The ability to slow down my natural anxieties that I am not living up to my mandates, and instead acknowledge God's guidance in all of my projects here.

I miss everyone, but not nearly as much as I will during Christmas.  So find some time this month to give me a shout out on Skype; my birthday is in two Mondays, too.


  1. What? You can't use the Jeep while you're there? Darn. I guess I'd better give it to someone else then. I was given it for free on the condition that it has to be given to someone else by the end of the month. Too bad. It just /screamed/ "Chris" to me when I saw it. :P

  2. Hey, I could just paint the Honda camo. But wait I haven't even finished Jon's car yet. Nope there probably won't be time to paint before you get back, guess we all have that problem once in a while. I was sure I would have Jon's car done in a couple of months. Go figure.

  3. "Paint the Honda camo" he says.



  4. That jeep is only available for gun-toting badasses. sorry