Expectation: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.
We tend expect some things in life because that is simply how they have always been. There is consistency, regularity. I like consistency well enough when it comes to my cake batter and relationships, but at the core of my heart change is my motivator. The journey, the unexpected turns of life, and the unpredictable nature of people- these are the things that make life interesting to me. I woke up this morning and decided today to be unpredictable, to do something simply for the joy of it , and to see what happened.
Last night I attended a fashion event that was Coachella themed. While I don’t have ample amounts of flower wreathes for my hair, or oodles of boho skirts, I decided today that I was going to celebrate the festival of good music and better experiences by doing the unexpected today. While I do work at a nonprofit, we are fairly corporate in our business plan and our attire. Most of the time you can find me in some version of this:
However, there are plenty of days when I don’t have meetings outside of the office, and internally we have a casual dress code. Many of my coworkers will wear jeans, company T-shirts, or other casual clothes. So today, on a casual Friday, when I had no outside meetings (you like the disclaimer happening here), I threw my hair up in an updo, pulled out my flowiest of tops, rocked a little fringe, and paired it with leather knee-high walking boots and a leather head wrap with minimal makeup. Ensue one of the most interesting days of my career.
On my way to get my morning Earl Grey tea in the office kitchen, about 5 different people did a double take. Literally, a double take. Others called me Pocahontas (I’m not sure if it was the feather earrings or the fringe…), and my boss didn’t even know what to do with me. Just ask her, she literally told me she didn’t even know how to handle my leather headband. (It was rather amusing to see her breathe a sigh of relief when I pushed it up in my hair and not on my forehead. I good-naturedly messed with her all day doing this.)
My coworkers had never seen this chameleon side of me, the side that likes to throw her hair up in a mohawk or wear bold eyes with next to no makeup. It wasn’t what they expected. It wasn’t the norm. At first, I was really taken aback by how shocked people were. Had I really conformed that much? Had I really allowed myself to be put in a one-size-fits-most box? Surely not. And then I realized something bigger, something much more valuable than my worries over people’s initial reactions:
I had more conversations with my coworkers today about non-work things than almost any other day in two years. They asked me about my outfit, what inspired me to wear it, WHY. We laughed and talked about music, about vintage clothes, and even about social media and internal culture. Today people saw me not as another coworker, but as an individual.
It made me wonder if so many of us see life like that- expected. The usual. Do we take it for granted because that is just how it always is? It’s just there? But what happens when it isn’t? When the people we love are no longer there for us, when cities change or opportunities are lost? What happens when we stop seeing things in expectation, and start seeing the people and experiences around us as a gift? As a journey? I wonder if that is a little bit of why the Coachella/hippie/music festival fashion has stuck around- because it represents the joy of the moment. Freedom. Adventure. Unpredictability.
Monday I probably will be back to one of my favorite outfits, but my day of Coachella style altered my perception of “the norm” for quite a while. Nothing in life is a guarantee- not culture, not a job, not your home or even your family. Taking a step outside of what you have come to expect is challenging. Its breaking a habit that has long been ingrained in us; it is breaking out of the box of safety to which we are accustomed. But doing the unexpected is like taking off a pair of sunglasses and seeing the world in color. Its richer, bolder, brighter. People have stories, and moments transform into gifts.
I’m challenging myself today to be more daring, to take chances and treat each experience as a gift. Living in fear of going against the grain can stifle your soul (it certainly does mine), so I’m simply going to stop. Stop thinking “what will they say” or “is this appropriate” or even “does this look the part” and instead follow my heart, my guidebook (that’s my ESV bible, guys), and my instincts. And maybe, just maybe, my shades of grey portrait of life will start looking like a color painting instead.
Here’s to the unexpected.
Boots, Vince Camuto | Riding Pants, Zara | Top, Frenzi Boutique | Fringed Shawl, Vintage- bought by my mother in Paris | Feather Earrings, Boutique in Gulf Shores MS |Leather Headwrap, similar Forever 21 |
Photographs taken by Brandon Crosby (in less than 10 min!).