Happy to be Not Sad

Dear Reader,

It can be hard to let people down sometimes, even if it’s just yourself. In a previous post, titled “Something to Look Forward to” I discussed how I’m always planning for my next trip or next fun event. Right now, I’m applying for a visa to go to Russia to participate in an interesting, short program. However, I still have yet not received visa approval and my passport is sitting somewhere in DC although I depart before the end of the month. If this were a normal trip where all I would have to do is book a ticket and reserve a room, I would be already bouncing off the walls with excitement. However, now that I’m in this limbo where I would really like to go, but things are not yet confirmed, I’m left in a rather uncomfortable state of uncertainty.

If someone asks me to commit to plans during the time that I’d be gone what would I even say? “Oh, that sounds fun! But, I hope I don’t have to take you up on that offer because I’d rather be in Russia.” I kid, but my point is that managing one’s own expectations can be tricky. I’ve thought of four scenarios to illustrate this point.

Park, St. Petersburg, Russia, fall 2014

Scenario 1: I get super excited about the trip, I plan out all of the sites that I want to visit, the foods I would like to try, and even contact the friends I would like to meet up with. Everything pulls through with the visa — great! I would then have a super trip because the planning part was super fun and the doing part was also super fun. 

Scenario 2: I know that my visa situation is up in the air and I don’t plan anything for the trip. However, a day before I’m due to leave, I get my passport back and am ready to go! Outcome – I’m happy, but not as prepared and not as happy as I would have been in scenario 1.

Scenario 3: I get super excited about the trip, plan out everything, but then my visa gets rejected. I reach peak sadness.

Scenario 4: I don’t get super excited about the trip, plan nothing, and my visa gets rejected. I’m sad, but not as sad as I could have been.

St. Petersburg, Russia, fall 2014

So what do I do? Do I choose to maximize happiness or mitigate sadness? I’ve thought about this a lot, Dear Reader, and I know that I usually tend towards the latter. I just can’t bear to make myself sad. If something isn’t certain, I will always proceed with caution. Do I risk my own happiness because of this? According to my above scenarios – yes, I guess so. However, things can still be good in the meantime. If everything hangs in the balance that just gives me permission to not preoccupy myself with the future. If I don’t know that I’ll receive my visa tomorrow, this just means that I get to plan something fun for today. If we find the future to be uncertain, Dear Reader, this just means we get to enjoy the present for a little longer.



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