Expectations vs. Reality

The other night, I randomly decided that it would be a good idea to watch a horror movie.  For some reason, I thought that everything would turn out okay even though I hadn't watched a horror movie in years exactly because nothing is ever okay after I watch a horror movie.  

But on that night, for no particular reason, I felt like I could handle it.  



Immediately after I turned off the TV, a feeling of apprehension welled up inside of me.  I could feel my psyche organizing what I had just seen into a highlight reel that will be freely embellished by my own imagination and then called upon to torture me for the rest of my life.  It will be dredged up over and over, turning innocuous everyday occurrences into terrifying threats against my survival.  Every noise that is not immediately identifiable will make me think that there's something in my house that is trying to kill me.   


I know that this is what will happen because it has happened before.  In hindsight, there was absolutely no reason to believe that it would not happen.  But for some unknown reason, I ignored a lifetime's worth of cautionary evidence and pranced merrily onward into the unavoidable consequences.   

Blind optimism and impulsivity often cause me to ignore logic and instead make decisions based on a hopeful projection of what's going to happen next.  It's like I forget everything I've ever learned about the things that generally don't end well when I do them.  And then I'm somehow surprised when things don't happen the way I expected.  

Take dancing, for example.  Despite hours spent watching instructional YouTube videos, I still lack the ability to move my body in a way that does not resemble a structurally unsound robot.  

But then I go somewhere where people are dancing.  I join in and, at first, I just try to keep it simple.


But after a little while, I get tired of repeating the same dance moves.  I start wanting to try something new. This is when that little bit of blind optimism creeps in and makes me believe, deep down in the very core of my being, that not only am I capable of shaking it like Beyoncé, but that is exactly what I should be doing. 


But something about the move I've just attempted feels "off."  


This is usually the point at which I am abruptly snapped out of my fantasy where I am graceful and sensual, into reality where my body is contorted into a vaguely gargoyle-like shape.


I am immediately filled with shame and regret. 


I begin to wonder why I would ever assume that I was capable of making my body do what I had pictured it doing.  My coordination is questionable even while performing simple tasks like walking or putting food in my mouth.  In college, I took a dance class and at the end of the year, the only thing my teacher wrote on my evaluation was "Allie tries hard." Nothing I have ever done would indicate that I have the potential to dance like Beyoncé.  But I didn't consider that.  

Another thing that almost always ends in direct contrast to how I had imagined is singing while other people are present. 

One time I went on a road trip with my college roommate, Julie.  I really liked Julie and I desperately wanted her to like me back, but she was quite judgmental and there is a lot about me to judge, so our time together was usually just a series of tense moments in which I tried my hardest to escape judgment long enough to win Julie's approval.

We had just left town, the sun was setting, the windows were down, the radio was playing and I was suddenly overcome with the desire to be a part of a montage-worthy car-singing duet.  In my head, it was the perfect opportunity to bond with Julie.  


I decided it would be a good idea to just start singing enthusiastically in order to get the ball rolling on fulfilling this pointless fantasy of mine.  


It soon became clear that Julie did not wish to participate in this potentially idyllic moment.  My enthusiasm imploded, leaving behind a black hole of awkwardness and insecurity.  


But I knew that if I stopped singing and just sat in silence, it would alert Julie to the fact that I was feeling awkward and insecure.  I had to pretend that I was unaware of the awkwardness I'd caused.  I had to keep singing.  


I mumbled the rest of the song quietly, turning my head toward the window to give the illusion that the sudden reduction in volume was due to the sound waves being impeded by my head and not because I was embarrassed.  

This discrepancy between the way I imagine things unfolding and how they actually happen is most dramatic when I overestimate my ability to perform a pointless feat of athleticism.  I'll walk past a low-hanging branch and be struck with an irresistible desire to see if I can jump up and touch it with my face.  I'll see something heavy lying on the ground and suddenly need to know if I can pick it up.  There are absolutely no tangible benefits to doing these things, but the consequences are often significant.   


As I'm lying there, crumpled and broken from my most recent attempt at meaningless success, I feel complete bewilderment at the motivation behind what I just did.  There was no point.  I'm sure that the decision was based on some scrap of reasoning, but in retrospect it seems that chaos and unbridled impulsivity just collided randomly to produce a totally unexplainable action with no benefit and all consequences.  

624 comments:

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The Jules said...

Yay! First Commenter!

Oh, wait . . . think there are a couple before me actually.

Anyway, ta for that.

My impulses usually involve fire, and I never seem to learn that it has the capacity to go a tad wrong.

quickyfant said...

Have been reading all your blog-posts and I simply love them! You have a great sense of humor! Thanks for posting these!

Anonymous said...

This is why I watch comedies instead.

Holmes said...

Hey, I write about you in my blog. Thank you for exist.

Greetings from Argentina.

Holmes.

Jen of Peanut Butter and Naan said...

I also think you should have a graphic novel. You are a contributing factor to making my life in India much more palateable. You make me laugh out loud!! What a sweet relief after a tough day keeping my family safe from malaria and other third world awesomeness. I found your blog in Tennessee before moving here, and literally stayed up for hours reading it...you have such a gift with your drawings!! Keep it up!!

Stefan said...

GAH. I do the same thing with scary movies. I don't even know how my brain manages to just forget what happened last time.

Anonymous said...

Ha! This was Awesome cubed.

I remember trying to impress a Julie once. I told her I was actually a princess from a country called "Times New Romania".

But then I got busted when she asked why I didn't have a Times New Romanian accent.

B-Fab said...

I don't watch scary movies because of this. I also check to make sure the front door is deadbolted like 2437 times before bed, and I check the spare bedroom, both bathrooms, and all closets for killers. Even the linen closet that nobody can fit in.

Monsters/killers/rapists are also a big reason why my baby sleeps in the same room as me; what if he was in the other room and I was oblivious to him being taken away?!?!?!

When I was in high school I was staying at my sister's house and she told me about The Ring (I didn't even watch the movie, she just told me the story, and not even in an I'm-gonna-scare-the-crap-out-of-you way, in a this-is-the-basic-story-with-no-unnecessarily-scary-embellishments way). She worked nights, and I was at her house alone, and couldn't get the tv to work, it was just the static snow LIKE IN THE MOVIE BEFORE YOU DIE!!! So I locked myself in the bathroom until I heard her come home and then I jumped into bed trying to look like I hadn't been cowering in the bathtub for the last 6 hours.

B-Fab said...

Oh and also please post more, I go into withdrawals when new posts don't show up on my Blogger dashboard.

Lily said...

I don't know if you're okay with this, but I'm pretty sure I'm in love with you in the most creepy way possible.

Cat said...

Discovered this blog a couple of weeks ago, and I'm a multi-national fan, having discovered it in Japan, and continuing to read it at home in the UK. That's a cool fact. I guess. Maybe not. I showed it to a German friend in Japan and she giggled over your Alot post, so now you know that Germans appreciate your humour too. Maybe you already knew that though :\

I love your rambling humour, and have cried, choked on food and spat out coffee in trying to control my laughter. All very gross but worth it.

Your incongruity makes my day, I will keep reading :D

Kristina said...

I like how your ponytail looks like a shark fin.

Michael said...

Allie! Having only just discovered your opus, I am saddened to report my levels of procrastination have consequently skyrocketed recently. Were your Quest For Fame a cognizant being, it would be pleased to know I'm looking past this temporary Allie-induced slothdom to recommend you wholeheartedly to my pals.

Were I into plagiarism, you'd be first on my hit list.

Jepha said...

Nice change in blog header.Does this mean we can expect a now post soon?I'm going nuts checking the site like 3 to 12 times a day haha

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will help to cheer you up?

http://www.awesomenessreminders.com/aboutus.html

Then again, maybe not.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Allie for your many ways of bring joy to my otherwise crappy day! =)

Casey H. said...

Ya know, Allie. I'd totally accuse you of stalking me and stealing all my life stories, but the sad fact is that yours are so much more interesting. Even when you're talking about failing to jump over a fence, it's somehow so much funnier and endearing than my own inability to walk in a simple straight line. Hmm.

Mrpointyhorns said...

I like that your 'a sound...where is it' expression is the same as your dog's reaction to being trained how to sit.

WhiskeyBen said...

dude, i absolutely warned you about Hostel. You posted on Twitter, I warned you, you ignored. You suffer!!!!

Mr. Bluesummers said...

Not that I delight in your misfortune, but this brightened the shit out of my otherwise dreary day. Thanks Allie!

Charlotte said...

while I know I tend to think like this as well, which can be quite embarassing; very luckily, my friends think the same way and make the same mistakes. We kind of end up failing at things together, which is pretty epic, really =D


thank you for posts always, they brighten my day. As long as I ignore that they fit on me as well. Sssshhh.

(another) Stefan said...

The best advice I've ever gotten about dancing:

Me to friend yelling over loud dance music: "I can't dance!"

Friend yelling back: "No one cares!"

vit.mistina said...

you just made me laugh Alot, thanks!

ThePeachy1 said...

my life, drawn by you. Thanks.

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