Finding Unexpected Joy in Canceled Expectations

Expectations are part of our daily lives. Every day, both willingly, and sometimes unknowingly, we are constantly creating good and bad expectations. Most of the time, it is good to have some sort of expectation about life. Expectations not only push us toward our goals, but they assist us in formulating a future, especially when what’s ahead is unknown. 

Expectations are especially important when a new year rolls around. The clock strikes midnight and we get our hopes up, creating expectations about our next steps. Some people make them in the form of resolutions, while others just make them as hopes and dreams about the future. 

But what happens when our expectations do not go as planned?

A couple of days ago, we exited 2020 and ran straight for 2021, hoping to leave behind the mess of a year we had just lived through. But, just for fun, let’s take ourselves back to the start of 2020, when the clock struck midnight and we all entered a brand new decade. 

Close your eyes and take yourself all the way back, before COVID-19 was spiraling out of control and before quarantine. What expectations did you have for 2020?

If you’re like me, you had some pretty big ones. I think we all had bigger expectations for the start of this new decade. Everyone was celebrating the Roaring 20s’ with the idea that we could party like Gatsby all year long. That idea seems laughable now, and  “A Little Party Never Killed Nobody” is rather ironic too if you ask me. 

The bad thing was, we didn’t even make it two months into 2020 before all the things that were supposed to happen were taken over by a harsh new reality. Suddenly, we had to cast all of our expectations aside, realizing that 2020 was something that no one could have prepared for. 

I mean, I know I am not the only one who thought more than a couple of times that 2020 had a personal vengeance against us all. At this point, I don’t think that we could count on one hand the amount of abnormal things that occurred last year. 

As those things occurred, suddenly, and maybe even overnight, every single expectation we had for 2020 was over.


Like the rest of us, I also experienced canceled expectations this year. Canceled events, vacations, school, friends, the list goes on and on. Often I questioned why I ever really had any expectations at all. 

Aside from the initial disappointment and anger of it all, I think a lot of us spent time mourning the year that we thought would exist. It is so easy to get bogged down when everything around you is suddenly changing and the world is faced with new challenges every day. 

I felt this way too, for most of 2020 actually, but now that it’s over, I’ve tried to have a  more positive mindset. As someone who is a hardcore realist, it has not been easy, but it has allowed me to look at the world differently as I prepare to make new expectations about the year ahead. 

2020 was not perfect, it was far from it. 

But perhaps it was not all bad either. 

I’d like to think that the beauty of 2020 was somewhere between the cracks, in the small moments that we didn’t really notice day to day. Maybe if we had taken a step back and attempted, only for a moment, to block out the bad, we would have found that some moments weren’t actually that bad after all. 

I know it sounds crazy to say that there was anything good about the past year, but maybe, somewhere between the stress and anxiety, there were some moments of joy, where the universe allowed you to throw your hands up and feel free. 

Maybe you were able to spend more time with your parents, playing board games and sharing family dinners together. Maybe you finally started the hobby that you said you would always try “when you got the time.” Maybe you gave yourself a quarantine haircut and you actually loved it. Or maybe you enjoyed just having a moment to sit by yourself and cry for the world around you.

Joy is found in the simplest of places, sometimes in the hidden moments unknown to you at the time. 

I would not describe 2020 in whole as joyous, because how could you? But, I hope that somewhere between the loneliness, disappointment and grief there was joy. History books are going to write about 2020 as a let down, as what seemed like the suckiest year we had ever experienced, and in most ways, I guess it was. 

But just for a moment, think about the fact that somewhere in the world someone held their baby for the first time, or fell in love, or did the thing that they always said they would do. Maybe someone got their dream job or became the first person in their family to graduate college. It probably didn’t look like we thought it would, but does that make it any less joyful? 

Somewhere, sometime throughout the last 12 months there was joy, and isn’t that worth mentioning?

2020 is over, and we can all try our best to forget it, to wipe away the expectations and create new ones for 2021, but I hope that before we do, we can all take a moment to find the joy that’s nestled inside our own canceled expectations. 

It might seem hidden, but I promise you, it is there. 

Goodbye, 2020. 


Share this article:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.