Anxiety, Anger, and Acceptance: The Expectation Hangover of 2020.

By April 7, 2020 No Comments

The past few weeks have been one big blur of a roller coaster. 

It started out rocky – my anxiety was back at an all-time high. Since then, I’ve thankfully been able to level set that anxiety and bring it back down to nearly zero. For me, anxiety is never fully at a zero but I take what I can get. Especially considering the events of the world at the moment. Yeah, scary shit! 

I knew I’d be able to manage my anxiety with a little time and a strong dedication to my breathwork and meditation practices – they always work for me. What I didn’t anticipate was what would take the place of my anxiety once I had eased it up. 

I guess I assumed that goal-oriented-positive-vibe-ambitious-dreamer-Rory would resurface. I hoped she would resurface because damn, I miss the good feeling she comes with. I mean, that was the point of all my work, right? To rid myself of my anxiety and get back to feeling good. 

That’s not what happened though. 

Instead, anger replaced anxiety. 

That was probably the last thing I expected to happen once I moved passed my anxiety. 

Every day for the last few weeks, I’ve eye rolled nearly everyone and everything I bear witness to. I have huffed and puffed at least 1000 times a day and I haven’t stopped complaining about even the most nonsensical things. 

I wish I could say “frustrated” was the adjective best used to describe my mood but it doesn’t even touch the truth. Instead, I’ve been telling friends that I’m feeling a little “murdery”. It’s half a joke, and half accurate. 

I’m just plain ole flat out angry. 

And for a long time, I had no idea why. 

I was walking around feeling pissed off nearly 99.9% of each day. (My poor fiance.) I kept thinking that it was completely absurd to be this grumpy and that thought only pissed me off even more. I’m angry. And then I’m angry about being angry. *well, shit!*

I haven’t felt this amount of anger in about 5 years. I haven’t seen this side of myself in a long time. I had wondered if that part of me had died off. I’ve found out during this global crisis that it hasn’t. It was still there underneath it all ready to peak back out when the time was right. 

But again, it’s batshit crazy to feel this way… 

Or so I thought. 

I mean, come on. I still have a job when so many others have lost theirs. Friends of mine are left without a legitimate income indefinitely. I have food in my pantry. I have plenty more food already in my belly (Is the “covid 19” a thing?). I have a comfortable and safe home and the internet to keep me distracted. I should be counting my lucky stars, NOT complaining about things! So then what the fuck has my problem been?!

I sat with this for a while. I plopped my butt on my meditation pillow determined to not get up until I had a better understanding of what was going on with me. 

What came up was something I didn’t even realize. 

Expectation kills reality. 

Christine Hassler coined the term  “Expectation Hangover”. It’s when you have an expectation about how something will turn out, or how someone will treat you and the reality is vastly different than what you pictured in your head.

And that’s what it was, I was experiencing my own expectation hangover. 

I didn’t expect a global pandemic to happen during my lifetime. I was maybe even so naive to think it wasn’t actually a possibility. 

What I had expected was that 2020 would be my year.

I had my goals laid out for the full 12 months. I had my core values written everywhere I could see: Momentum, Alignment, and Fun.

But boy oh boy, I have not been having fun! I haven’t been feeling aligned at all – I’ve almost forgotten what being centered feels like. And momentum? What momentum? I’m paused at best. My side hustle and dream career seem childish now. I haven’t been writing much and I have not made the progress I had hoped I would by this point.

Tony Robbins will have to wait too. 

One of my personal goals and dreams is to attend a Tony Robbins conference. Don’t judge me. You know I love that stuff! 

Last October, I finally pulled the trigger and bought my fiance and myself tickets to Unleash the Power Within in San Jose, Ca. I had it all planned out, down to the minute. Airbnb, Booked. Car, rented. Conference essentials, packed. 

Then, early one morning, we were notified that the conference was canceled. My heart was crushed. 

I had expected to attend that conference.

I had been thinking about it every day for the last 4 and a half months. I had expected that at this very moment in time – end of March, April, and May – I’d be using the motivation and energy I got from that conference to push towards my biggest goals. I would be working on my Life Coaching career, I’d have a blog that was actually getting traffic, I’d be fully motivated to reach my health and fitness goals. 

Instead, I’ve been sitting on my sofa eating white cheddar popcorn and pizza pockets all day. I workout, but not nearly enough to balance my mid-afternoon wine breaks. I haven’t attracted any new life coaching clients, I’ve only maintained the clients I already have. My morning routine is nearly non-existent – 5am’s have turned into 10 am’s. I’m no where near where I wanted to be – I’m no where near where I planned to be. The life I had pictured for me right now seems very different than the one I am leading. 

None of what I had planned on happened. None of my expectations were met.

So what now? 

I let my own expectations of a reality that did not play out fuel my frustration. And then I let that piss me off even more. Seems like a vicious cycle and I’ve been there before – I don’t want to go down that path again.

But what can I do? How can I possibly get back on track with this amount of dis-ease settled so deeply within me? 

The answer to that is one I don’t like but one that I need. 

The answer is to simply accept it. 

I can’t undo a pandemic. The best thing I can do is what everyone tells me to do and stay home. I have to accept that this is something greater than me and completely outside of my control. I have to accept that it exists and just stay home while hoping for the best. 

I also have to accept that this has interrupted the plans and lives of so many people, not just my own. No one wants this. There are people who have been significantly impacted by today’s events more than I can imagine and for them, I hurt so much. I have to accept that we are all living in a time of fear and uncertainty. There is no way around that. 

And I don’t know about you, but motivation for me doesn’t come at the flip of a switch. I can’t fake it till I make it either. So then I have to accept that, for me, a time of chaos also brings with it a season of stillness rather than momentum. I have to accept that moving forward and achieving goals will take longer than I had hoped for. If all I can do is stay afloat, then I need to accept that and be thankful for it. 

Let life flow. 

I got that tattooed on my arm a few years ago. It was supposed to be a reminder to myself to watch as life unfolded around me rather than trying to control it. It was my queue to let go of expectations and simply take in the way life shapes up. 

I seemed to have forgotten that for a bit of time. I guess I don’t look at my arm nearly enough. 

But this global crisis has reminded me of what happens when I don’t accept life as it turns out. It’s shown me how hard it can be to move through life when I am so tied to outcomes. Even though this time is so uncertain and even downright fear-inducing, there are still lessons to be had here. 

What about you? Is lifting shaping up to be very different than the way you pictured? Did you have an idea of what this day and time might be like and seeing your reality not match that image? Are there things you’re struggling to accept too? If so, remember you’re aren’t alone in that. We’re all having an expectation hangover to some degree. We’re all learning to let life flow.


Author roryruedas

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