Life @ U of T

The Ultimate Showdown: Expectations vs. Reality

Sometimes you order a sandwich, and instead of getting satisfying, carb-y deliciousness you get a slice of cheddar between two soggy pieces of Wonderbread: the kind of meal that makes anyone who went to Fyre Festival jealous. Let's face it: disappointment is rough. Especially when there's a massive gap between our expectations and reality.
Stock photo of some crumpled up pieces of paper and some pencils. Caption: writer's block = disappointing
writer's block = disappointing
Academically-speaking, disappointment can be tough to bounce back from. We've all gotten marks back that we thought would be better, or expected to give a TED Talk–level presentation only to fumble over one-syllable words. It can take a toll after a while, and it makes some students question themselves on a personal level. Maybe after nearly flunking a class you've thought, "Maybe I'm just not cut out for university." I know that this thought crossed my mind a lot in my first year. In all honesty, I expected university to be a lot like the movies. I have no idea why I believed this, but the reality of university taking a lot of work hit me like a tonne of bricks pretty quickly. First year me was bummed out that, *gasp*, the movies lied! But I digress...
A photo of me on a boat during Frosh week. Caption: Hilarious photo of me trying to meet my bizarre first-year expectations during frosh.
Hilarious photo of me trying to meet my bizarre first-year expectations
Expectations rarely change reality, but disappointment can. Since it's such an unpleasant feeling (and usually comes from valuable learning experiences), it can be used to steer oneself in the right direction and bounce back from academic slumps. So yes, while disappointment hurts, it can be a tool for checking whether the gap between expectations and reality is too big. What's the next step after realizing that the gap between expectations and reality is a bit too large? In my experience, sitting down and writing things out helps (i.e., keeping a journal to refer back to). Getting feedback from a trusted, non-judgmental friend or family member (or a Learning Strategist) is another good option. For students who've struggled in or have failed courses, are on probation, or are returning for suspension, there's the Fresh Start conference. You might have seen the posters around campus for the past month. It's a one-day conference for any St. George undergrad who is looking to acquire the skills for setting realistic and feasible goals. Fresh Start will be running this coming Saturday, February 9th from 9:30am-4:30pm in Room 202 of the Galbraith Building, and registration is still open until 5 pm today!  There will be tons of helpful panels, with a free lunch for an extra bonus. You can register and find additional details about Fresh Start here.  

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