Friday, July 2, 2010

Anticipation: It's Making Me Wait

One of the things I've been doing for this big event I'm helping plan is to make various t-shirt designs, pamphlets, books, etc. to be sold at the event. It's been great fun to be creative and produce some beautiful work which other people are buying.

I've already received copies of several things I've made and I'm really excited about it. I've held in my hand posters, postcards, greeting cards, t-shirts, tiles, and books--all of which I played a major part in designing (CafePress and Lulu are wonders for printing things you can dream up and making them "on demand"). It's been very exciting.

We are waiting for two more shipments of merchandise and one arrives today.

This has made me think about anticipation--the delights of it (and its negative side). As we've ordered each batch of things, I've always had great anticipation about its arrival. We've laid a lot of money into these things and until you hold them in your hands you can't be certain they will turn out as you planned them to be. A mistake could be made, after all. I'm new to this so I could make a mistake or the printing company could. Also, the excitement about designing actual products is pretty high so I look forward to each item. When it looks good, I'm ecstatic.

Part of anticipation is fear of the unknown (but more of the good side). We don't know what is coming for sure, but we are looking forward to it. We are anxious for it to get here so we can actually experience it.

The fear I've experienced in the past has often been the fear of the unknown with the negative side of anticipation (the belief that what is coming may not be good and the dread of it coming). For instance, I used to have an overwhelming fear come over me whenever I'd have to go visit the Chair of my dissertation committee. Since I'd been having trouble with her for a long time by that point, the night before I'd go to see her I'd often wake up in the middle of the night and spend the rest of the night vomiting. This was the negative side of anticipation. Because I was NOT looking forward to something (and fearing the unknown), I'd get sick to my stomach.

Now I'm experiencing the positive side. I still don't know what is coming but I'm generally positive about it.

I always said that it was the unknown that was my problem, but I think now that it was my general feeling that the outcome would be bad (even if it turned out not to be) while here my general feeling is one of pleasure (I believe it will be a good event). The unknown is strong in both cases, but it is my overall sense of what I think it will be that governs my reaction.

So I sit here this morning, a little anxious that the product arriving today will look good, but generally excited and happy. It feels a little like Christmas Eve. I can hardly wait to unwrap my presents.

I have heard the quote "There is nothing so bad but thinking makes it so." Perhaps that is what we should learn from this. What drives anticipation from a positive emotion to a negative emotion is the belief in the general outcome of what is being anticipated. If we believe it is likely to be bad, our anticipation becomes more like dread. I need to work on thinking more realistically and/or positively about upcoming events so that I don't needlessly spend time vomiting over things that will never happen.

I'd much rather experience the positive side of anticipation, like I am today.

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