Getting My Hopes Up

If I learned anything during my three years in Mexico, it’s not to get my hopes up. When I set out in my over-loaded Honda for a four-day trip across two countries, I figured I’d be back–with my husband–in eighteen months. Maybe a year.

That didn’t happen.

There were too many disappointments over those three years to fully list here–the biggest being denied a US visa for my now ex–and at some point I realized that the only way to get on with my everyday life was to stop thinking about what I had no control over. I even wrote a poem about it.

Prior to my Mexico ordeal, I got over-excited at the drop of a hat. Mention the hint of the possibility that something fun/cool/adventurous/maybe-a-little-bit-scnadelous might possibly happen and I could hardly sit still until it occured. And I told everyone.

Not anymore.

Having to email, call, and Skype everyone I know every time I got more bad news in Mexico taught me to keep things a little closer to the vest. (Or in my case, the tank top.) It just made things easier. As much as I yearned to return to Chicago, I refused to look at job or apartment listings. I didn’t want to add to the list of possible disappointments, and it turns out that ended up serving me well.

The downside to this is now I don’t allow myself to get excited about anything until the ticket’s purchased, the offer’s in, or I know for a fact that something’s actually going my way. Until then I just push it out of my mind.

Do I miss the anticipation of the unknown? Sure. Am I being too negative? Perhaps. But I am still hopeful that better things are to come.

How do you findΒ a balance between calmly getting on with your life and running around in tiny circles?

About Melanie Hooyenga

Writer. Designer. Jock. Reader. Wife. Puppy-Mama. SCBWI member since 2015.


  1. jason

    I would offer that its a helpful mindset. Pragmatic and very military, by the way, which is a constantly changing organization that offers highs and lows. I would tell you until the wheels go up, the bomb is dropped, or when your actually at your new assignment, there’s no cause for celebration. More pointedly this is about goals and one should never et too excited until the World Series s won, the Super Bowl trophy is held or te Stanley Cup is hoisted. The returns in between should be savored but the prize at the end is what matters.

    • I have definitely learned this the hard way. I used to get SO excited at even the possibility of something good happening, and now I’m the complete opposite. I typically expect that the worst will happen.

  2. I usually say I’m a realistic optimist. The best example of this, is that when I found out I was pregnant, I was about 7 seconds pregnant. To tell or not to tell? My mother had a history of miscarriages and problem pregnancies. I *assumed* I would have a miscarriage. Would not telling anyone mean I would be less upset or sad if that happened? What would happen if I *had* the baby and hadn’t reveled in every moment of the anticipation. So I did. I told people I was pregnant. I didn’t have a miscarriage. My son will be 19 in 6 weeks.

    Since then, I have allowed myself to look forward to things knowing that there might be a change of plans, a disappointment, a let-down. I wouldn’t trade all the times I had fun anticipating something because of the times my hopes were dashed (many!!!) The good parts are just too fun and remind me, when times are bad, that usually they get good again.

    • I’m so happy for you that it worked out well. πŸ™‚ Obviously.

      I definitely look forward to things when I know they’re definitely happening — like taking a trip — it’s the unknown things that I’m just hoping for that get me all aflutter now.

  3. Melissa (The Mule)

    I say, “Damn the torpedoes, and full speed ahead!” Getting excited is fun. Is the let down one hell of a bummer when something doesn’t happen? You bet. But I still love the ride. I just can’t help myself. Allow yourself to feel the possibilities of things again. Temper it with “possibly” or “maybe”, but go with it.

  4. How do you find a balance between calmly getting on with your life and running around in tiny circles?

    You don’t. What Melissa (The Mule) said. Pick a goal, run bandy legged in its direction, and scream like a chicken all the way.

  5. I should clarify, as I typed my last comment from my phone as I jumped on a ski gondola (your post implored THAt sort of reaction). All that said, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be enthusiastic about what’s ahead. Positive attitude and the ability to sort through “can’t” and distill the “can” is a major player along the way. Of course celebrate the triumphs as you go along, but keep focused on the big prize. The journey is absolutely more fulfilling than the destination — but the destination starts a new journey. πŸ˜‰

    • Yanno, I saw after you commented that you were skiing and was quite surprised that you took the time to comment when you did. I appreciate it!

      I do still keep a positive attitude, I just temper it with an overdose of practicality. πŸ˜‰

  6. I think I did like you for a couple years, and I’m really needing more enthusiasm and ambition in my career life. On the other hand, I have absolutely NO IDEA where I’m going to be living in four months–I don’t even know what I’m going to be writing next week. It’s disconcerting. It’s a weird sort of spot to be in.

    • So you don’t know where you’ll be living at all? I hadn’t realized that was part of the deal. I’m sorry. πŸ™ I hope that gets sorted out soon.

      I can see how it’d be hard to stay excited about much of anything with that looming over your head.

  7. Nadine

    I also get my hopes up only to have them suffer crushing disappointment.

    For now, I try to live by “Hope for the best and expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed”

    • Nadine, that’s totally my motto. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a much better time than I expected because I went in with either NO expectations, or I expected the absolute worst. I’ve also been known to be the devil’s advocate pointer-outer in more scenarios than I probably should. I’d rather know what’s coming.

  8. I know it sounds horrible, but I usually expect the worst case scenario with just about everything. That way, if the worst happens, I am prepared, but if something better happens, I am pleasantly surprised.

    Turkey (glass half empty)

  9. OY! Hoo!

    Enough of this maudlin rubbish or I’ll poke ya till you barf!!!

    *Stern face, slightly marred by the red clown nose.*

    In regards to the question, you know me. I’m more positive and optimistic than is healthy, and it frequently bites me in the arse. Does that mean I should change?

    Pfft. Bollocks to that. πŸ˜‰


    PS – You’re awesome.

  10. Pam

    I try to find a happy medium. In situations where you have no control over the final outcome, what Nadine said is absolutely correct. If you expect the worst, you’ll never be disappointed. However, the excitement and the anticipation of getting our hopes up brings joy, and we can all use more of that. So I only tell 1 or 2 of my closest friends or family members. If the outcome is bad, I only have 1 or 2 people to share it with, and they are the people who will commiserate while I cry in my beer.

    • Pam, that’s exactly how I do it. I cannot help but tell a couple people, but that’s it. And I choose those people very carefully. No one who will badger me with questions or go on and on and on about it — unless that’s what I want.

      I haven’t cried in a beer in a long time. Maybe that’s what I need. πŸ˜‰

  11. ab

    That’s how I am. It’s very hard to get me excited about something. Tom loves to dream & “what if”…. makes me crazy. “Live in the now” comes to mind. Yes, more Wayne’s World πŸ˜‰

    Until I’m doing it – I’m not hopping for joy about the prospect of it. Maybe I’ve been let down one time too many too…

    Excuse me. I need to go check my inbox for rejections. :/

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