Columns, Opinion

That’s Wright: There’s danger in the hype

I once witnessed pure joy and blissful surprise in a local chocolate shop. A man was on the phone with his friend, telling him how cheap it was to get a massive, build-your-own box of truffles. And if that wasn’t enough, a worker came up to him and told him he had to fill up the box up all the way to the line.

At this point, the man was overjoyed. He couldn’t believe that his astoundingly wonderful discovery could get even more wonderful, with even more chocolate. On the phone, he told his friend it was the highlight of his day.

To be fair, walking into a chocolate shop is always fun. But it’s also pretty predictable. Right away, you expect to be overwhelmed with a beautiful assortment of luxury candies. It’s hard for that to ever be disappointing, but true bliss for this man came from the surprise and astonishment of the encounter — even more so than the chocolate itself.

He expected to get chocolate, but he didn’t expect to get quite that much.

On the other hand, if his friend decided to go into this chocolate shop, after the beaming recommendation he received on the phone, the experience would not be the same. I’m sure it would still be largely enjoyable, considering the mass quantities of chocolate involved, but the experience would be largely diluted.

There’s danger in the hype. It can cause us to form unrealistic, unattainable expectations and make disappointment inevitable. Instead of being able to naturally enjoy something, we get too caught up in some abstract idea of “amazing.” Inevitably, things are going to fall short to our artificial, undefined expectations.

Sometimes, the things that have little pressure end up being the most memorable. Like the ecstatic man in the chocolate shop, it can be incomparably wonderful to wander into something with no crazy expectations, no requirements, no list of must-haves — just a raw appreciation of something surprising, different and wonderful.

This same principle can be applied to putting pressure on yourself to succeed or getting a particular career. We hype ourselves up, tricking ourselves to believe we would only be happy or successful doing one specific job. As a result, we might be disappointed with the reality of the position or feel like a failure when it doesn’t work out.

Instead of keeping an open mind and allowing ourselves to explore a wide variety of options, it can be too easy to create narrow, unrealistic expectations.

Don’t get me wrong, though — hype can be very helpful, and expectations can be formative and important. We frequently rely on the opinions of others to explore new places, experience new events and try something that we may have never known about without hype.

And sometimes, we need high expectations to recognize whether we’re in the right place or if something is even worth our time.

For instance, if one’s career repeatedly doesn’t live up to their expectations, it could be a sign that it’s not a good fit and that change is in order. Expectations will inevitably develop with previous experience and help shape our decisions later on.  

However, there’s something to be said about those small, seemingly unimportant moments. They can be more fun, more memorable and more meaningful. While the hype can be valuable, the world will surprise you in the most exciting ways — no matter if that means entering an unknown career path or discovering an incredible deal at a random chocolate shop.

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