My entire life I’ve been battling with my mind. A mind that loves to create and imagine how things will and should go at an upcoming event, discussion, confession, or anything with any level of importance. A mind that is so vivid that you can often find me talking as myself, to myself in this imagined reality as I get ready, lay in bed, or take a shower.
One way of looking at this is to be amazed by the mind’s creative potential. Think about it: it has the ability to mix past experiences, hopes, characters, and so many other factors together to create a version of something that hasn’t even happened yet. A version that is so compelling and cinematic that it often manages to evoke real emotions, and in most cases, very real expectations of how things should go.
I bolded the word expectations because it’s what the second way of looking at the mind’s creative power is centred upon. For many of us, myself included, expectations (whether we’d like them to be or not) are at the core of so much of what we do. We develop them, hold onto them, and use them as a basis for evaluation in comparison to what actually plays out.
One major influence on the expectations we develop is pop culture/media. A prominent way they do this is through advertising, where we are sold unattainable realities that are falsely promoted to get us to buy a product, service, or vacation package.
I recently came across a series of photos on the wonderful website BrightSide that illustrate this perfectly. In these pictures, we are first shown the images that the media uses to sell us on visiting particular world wonders, followed by some actual tourist pictures from the same locations. Here are 5 of the photos they shared. To see the full 15 picture collection I encourage you to click on this LINK.
1. The Great Wall Of China
2. The Pyramids of Giza
3. Santorini, Greece
4. The Louvre, France
5. The Eiffel Tower, France
6. Stonehenge, Great Britain
7. The Leaning Tower Of Pisa, Italy
8. Copacabana Beach, Brazil
9. Acropolis of Athens, Greece
10. St. Peters Basilica, Vatican
11. Central Park, New York
Having been to a couple of these world wonders and places myself, I can certainly attest to them being a lot less spectacular in person than they seem to be on every promotional piece. While I did manage to enjoy my time at them, it’s still funny to observe how far off reality can be from the expectations we are encouraged to develop.
I also personally find it comical how we, humanity, have a tendency to obsess over particular locations simply because the media has encouraged us to. Tourist attractions such as the Eiffel Tower, or the Great Wall of China are certainly beautiful structures to behold, but are they really worth packing ourselves like sardines to see? The entire planet is full of beautiful places to see and experience, so don’t be afraid to stray off the typical tourist package and create your own adventure!
To further illustrate the impact that our expectations can have on our reality, I would like to share with you all a clip from my favourite movie of all time, (500) Days of Summer. In this scene, the filmmakers stray away from the traditional cinematic approach by splitting the screen to show us the same scenario simultaneously through two different perspectives.
On one side are the expectations that the main character, Tom, developed towards the event, and on the other is the reality of what occurred. Pay attention to how the pre-conceived expectations shape Tom’s reactions in real life.
Through this article, I’m certainly not suggesting that we work towards a reality where we never develop expectations. I’m instead encouraging us to be more aware of them and to also not be afraid to stray away from what the media is selling us.