I tend to expect great things of myself. The perfectionist in me expects the highest quality of effort and work from myself, which in turn, means that subconsciously, I have similar expectations for others. I’ve gone above and beyond to meet my expectations, doing other things that other people would seem as insane (but that is a topic for a later time). What happens is either I meet my expectation or I fall flat with disappointment. It is a rare occasion when I meet my expectations eye to eye. It’s more like I stare up at my expectation, the giant it is, and hope that I manage to reach, or at least come close. This has been my practice from the very beginning: Work hard, expect the greatest things…and become openly disappointed when things don’t go your way.
It would be a lie for me to tell you that I didn’t resonate with this video. Besides for the fact that The Tales of Mere Existence is one of my favorite YouTube channels (ever), this video, in a sense, is the story of my life. Not to say that I walked into my writing venture with expectations such as the ones highlighted in the video, because that is far from true. There is, however, a ounce or so of truth to this video. Watching this the first time was a major reality check. Suddenly, everything about the process and the release hit me in the face like a ton of bricks. Suddenly, the light bulb went off: THIS IS YOUR REALITY BUT IT IS NOTHING CLOSE TO WHAT YOU EXPECTED.
There’s that word again. Expect. Expectations. The expectations I had of myself and of the book, and of what my life would be like once the book was out of my system. Nothing close to what I imagined, though in a way, much better than I imagined.
It would be an outright lie if I told you that I walked into this process with no expectations whatsoever. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high, but somewhere in the back of my mind, I hoped to prove all the nay sayers, including my own nay saying voices, wrong.
I’m not sure that I have proven them wrong. There were certain events that I was waiting for that I thought would make or break me. I’m not sure what they have done yet, but I noticed that the events I was so eagerly waiting for came and went without it making much of a difference. Or at least, that’s how it seems. See, the first problem is that I expected them to make or break me, not make or break the book. The problem was that I made all of this about myself, which, as I have written before, is a bad idea.
The truth is that I cannot know for sure what how certain events have or have not affected the process of the book. The week before Shattered Illusions was released, the Wall Street Journall picked up the press release that had been written about it. I was over the moon, but I tried not to allow the excitement to take over my life. Three days after the press release was picked up, I received a phone call from a journalist at the New York Post. He wanted to interview me for the paper, and send a photographer out to my parent’s house (I was home visiting for the weekend) to take my picture for the story. Again, I was over the moon. He interviewed me throughout the day and said that the article would go to print the following Monday. (They didn’t have time to send a photographer, so I sent them a professional photo, but besides for that, all systems were go.) Then, on Sunday night, when I arrived back in New York, I received an email from the journalist, letting me know that they weren’t going to release the story after all. Why? Because the book wasn’t racy enough…not enough sex, not enough drugs or cussing. So, they dropped the story. Since then, the media attention has been pretty weak. Though, on the plus side, I’ve managed to do a pretty good job on my own. The feedback online has been amazing, and the reviews of the book have made me prouder than I ever thought I would be. People all over the world are reading Shattered Illusions, and that was without the media outlets of the world buzzing about it. It would be difficult for me to tell you that not receiving that attention hasn’t been a bit of a disappointment, especially with all of the time, effort and money poured into it.
I have been so blessed. I look back at everything that has happened in the past year, since I began the promotion for Shattered Illusions, and I cannot help but scratch my head in disbelief. Is this really my life? I can trace back every event and watch as, in slow motion, they all move before my eyes, creating a perfect chain. Every person I’ve encountered, every rejection or acceptance I received have has opened endless possibilities. Every email or conversation I’ve had with potential reviewers, every question I’ve asked or been asked has brought me here. When one door would close, another ten would open. Last February, when the publishing journey actually began, I had no idea how I was going to pull any of this off, or where any of this would lead me. Look at where I am now. I am in awe of how beautiful my life is, and how incredible this journey has been. This is exactly where I need to be right now.
So, CNN isn’t sending reporters to my house, and the HuffPost Books isn’t tweeting about me. The expectation shouldn’t be to achieve worldwide fame within a mere matter of moments (though that seems to be the trend these days). But, the hard work is paying off. The results that I have seen so far are pushing me to continue, no matter where it goes. The key, as I have been continuously reminding myself for the past year, is that I cannot base my happiness on where the book goes. The success of the book is out of my control. I can choose to be happy regardless of how many copies the book has sold, or how many people are sharing the news on their social media sites. Things are great. Things are fantastic. Expectations or not, I am reclaiming my decision to be happy with whatever happens.