Expect to Live the Life You Choose
There was one other thing about Me Before You that struck me (beyond it being an exact copy of another book), and that was a line that came on page 260:
“Everything takes time… and that’s something that your generation find it a lot harder to adjust to. You have all grown up expecting things to go your way almost instantaneously. You all expect to live the lives you chose.”
Which made me ask… was there ever a generation that didn’t have expectations? That didn’t strive for goals and become disappointed when their goals were thwarted? I mean… it’s sort of a dick thing to say, right, beyond painting an entire generation of people with a single brush. Let’s just admit that we all have a fairly skewed lens through which we view other generations or races or ethnicities or religions… choose your group.
But taking that quote as truth, the question remains whether it would be better to teach kids to have no expectations. Because once you have expectations and goals, you have potential disappointments. You have the fact that things may not go your way, you may not achieve your goal. Would it be better to tell kids to drift? To not imagine their future? To let go of all material objects or desires for good health, and to simply go along with things as they unfold, accept whatever happens, and just… be.
Really? There were generations that did that?
Even more dickish, the line is said about a person who is mourning their current state in life — paralysis — in comparison to the life they thought they would live — non-disabled. That’s a fairly huge change being discussed by someone who has not gone through a fairly huge change. Who always thought that she would be non-disabled (as I think most people do who are born non-disabled) and has continued to be non-disabled.
No one is guaranteed health and wellness, just as no one is guaranteed an easy pregnancy and delivery despite it being the norm. But how would it ever be helpful for someone who has achieved three easy pregnancies to sit down next to an infertile woman and say, “snap out of it! So it’s not going your way. You need to learn to live with it!” I mean, yes, that is said on a daily basis. But really, how is it helpful?
No one is denying the validity of the statement. We all do need to learn to live with things, but berating someone isn’t the way to go about helping that person come to a place of understanding and acceptance.
I couldn’t believe this character wasn’t punted across the room. That her words were meant to be astute, an important point to change the way the other characters were seeing their situation. The character who speaks these words is described in only the most glowing of terms. If I had been at the party, I would have made given her the look.
There is no way to teach resilience.
I mean, that’s like trying to teach Spanish out of a textbook for an hour five times per week. You aren’t going to get a fluent Spanish speaker if you approach the language in this manner, and you’re not going to get a resilient child if you talk to them about resilience while they’re in a place of comfort.
Resilience needs to come from experience; from having the unexpected take place and adjusting. Or not adjusting. One path is obviously the more desired path, but not everyone will reach the desired path. Not everyone can get themselves to a place of acceptance. And that is okay, too. Maybe a lack of acceptance is what they need to fuel their fire. Maybe not feeling settled with the status quo drives them to keep working towards a new goal. I don’t know. I can’t speak to anyone else’s process.
I don’t know anyone who grew up expecting everything to go their way almost instantaneously. We were perhaps taught that if we could achieve a lot if we put out a great effort, and we chose to transfer that idea to situations outside our control. What works when it comes to a classroom exam doesn’t work when it comes to life events such as marriage or parenthood.
But I can’t say that it’s a bad thing to expect to live the life you choose. To imagine a life and try to get there.