Recently I read Committed, by Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert, and I was inspired by her thoughts on marriage. In her book she quoted an old adage which says, "Plant an expectation; reap a disappointment." I've had that quote rolling around in my mind since I read it, and it really helped me work through my anxiety about the first agent not responding yet to my query letter.
All weekend I had a sense of low-grade anxiety and I couldn't place where it was coming from. We had a lot of fun activities stacked up, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, but underneath it all there was a nagging sense of frustration that I couldn't identify.
Last night I got serious about pinpointing what was bothering me, as I hate wasting time feeling upset when on the surface everything is going fine. Just by taking a few minutes to really analyze the problem, I was able to face my fear of the unknown and accept that a "Yes, please send us your screenplay" is what I desperately want, but even a "No thanks" is okay with me because there are more agents to submit to. But the desperate waiting in between, where my fate is out of my hands, is the killer to my confidence and self esteem.
My whole life I have struggled with high expectations, and then I'm constantly amazed when I'm disappointed by the outcome. Reading that little adage helped me understand that it's a cause and effect relationship: expectations lead to disappointment. I think the key is to hold loosely to the way the event plays out, because it can be ten times better than we expected, and also much worse. We do what we can do, and then when the end result is out of our hands, we must be willing to accept any outcome.
I thought I was doing better in this area, and I suppose I am compared to many years ago, but old habits die hard, and we must stay vigilant in order to beat them. When three weeks came and went with no response to my query letter, I sent another short e-mail on Friday and I still haven't heard anything. Patience is required. The world is not ending because I don't know what is going to happen with this particular agency. I will hear an answer when they have the time. I'm trying to remain in a state of peace and joy instead of frustration and anxiety. Deep breaths and calm reassurances are the order of the day.
It's impossible not to have any expectations on ourselves, on others or on situations, but I'm going to try to manage them, making what I expect more realistic, and still holding loosely to what happens. I want to believe the best of people, not the worst, and also expect the kindest behaviour from myself toward myself. Grace is required on all sides. I'm going to imagine grace all around me like cotton balls, cushioning me against my own rigid hopes. Softer, gentler, kinder. May those three words lead the way.