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Books in Black and White

By Robyn

When I was 14 I had the next four years of my life planned out. I would take the required AP classes, I would be involved in my community and I would go to a top tier four-year college. Throughout the next three years these were the expectations of not only my parents but also myself. Now as I approach my senior year, I am plagued with a dilemma. I can’t decide whether to take AP literature in the upcoming year. To many this is a simple problem with an easy solution. If I am interested in the class I should take it if not then drop it. For me there is another force at play, expectations.

The past three years went almost according to plan with a little blip in my grades but otherwise very smoothly living up to the expectations. If I take AP literature I will be committing myself to a rigorous mental workout and a year of formidable homework with more than 2 hours of homework a night. If I don’t take the class I will be letting down my parents, and myself, breaking the expectations that surround me. I have spent the past few days sitting in front of my summer assignment paralyzed. I don’t want to do the work. Yet I can’t let anyone down. I am letting these expectations get in the way of my happiness. Instead of enjoying my summer I am stressing about something as trivial as a potential high school class.

My mother patiently explained to me that I just needed to make a choice and stick to it and so I told her I would take the class. After all that was what she wanted to hear. I made a commitment based on expectations not based on my desires and I am now realizing just how miserable I will be if I am not truly interested in the class.

Our lives are defined by expectations, whether we have committed to breaking them or to living up to them. The expectations in my life aren’t aligning with my reality and the only way to eliminate the stress is to redefine the expectations. I need to look within myself and come to terms with the fact that it is okay to break expectations. I only want to take AP literature because that is what I’m supposed to do, and that is not the way I want to live my life.

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