Even when we first started planning out trip, Barcelona was the jewel in our eye. Every fellow backpacker that we crossed paths with gushed about the beauty of Barcelona. The sun, beaches, girls, and the atmosphere was what everyone raved about. We couldn’t wait to get there. It was going to be like a vacation within a vacation. When things got tough, we would just shrug and say “Wait til’ Barcelona”. Our whole trip was overhauled to accommodate Barcelona. To say that our expectations for this city had reached the stratosphere would be an understatement.
It didn’t take long for us to realize that expectations….suck. Barcelona was not some heavenly entity like we had anticipated. It was a city, a big city, with a beach. The Sagrada Familia was interesting to look at, and the same can be said about most of Gaudi’s work situated throughout the city. It was nice but did not move me or change my life. The beaches are good, the water warm, the cigarette butts plentiful, and the homeless men innovative (selling beer that they bought from the grocery store).
Beaches and art aside, our hostel proved underwhelming as well. Yes, it was a few minute walk to the beach, but for half our stay we did not have any roommates. We were in an 8 bed dorm room with just us, and could tell that we were losing our minds from the isolation. In fact, the entire hostel was mostly devoid of anyone. We ate breakfast alone, met a few guys from Denmark who left shortly after, and nobody seemed to want to meet anyone new. We even washed our clothes in an effort to smell better, just in case.
But back to the lesson….expectations suck.
I don’t mean to trash on Barcelona…it is a beautiful city, with interesting food, culture, and I love the siestas from 2pm-4pm. It’s just that it did not meet our lofty expectations, and to be fair, I don’t see how it ever could have.
The best times we have had on this journey was when we had no expectations. We decided on going to Berlin, while eating breakfast in Amsterdam a few days beforehand. We had no time for expectations and had just heard that Berlin is unique and it fit into our route. It turned out to be one of the best stops we made, as we met some great people and had some crazy experiences that I will never forget.
Salzburg proved to be another amazing city with no expectations going in. The only reason we went to Salzburg was because we had just booked a flight from Lyon to Barcelona and it was on the way. We had also grown tired of the big cities and needed something different. So of course, Salzburg completely surprised us with its amazing fortress, food, and tranquility.
So for now on, I plan on doing my best to get rid of expectations in my life and for the rest of this trip. Having expectations has never added value to my life. If something meets my expectations…great, but I expected it. If it fails to meet my expectations, then I’m mad, unhappy, and unfulfilled. There is, and never will be, a happy ending.
So give to others because you enjoy how it lights up their face. Be charitable because it makes you feel good, and not because you expect your life to be showered in good karma. Love your family, your friends, and your significant other. Not with the expectation of something in return, but simply because it feels good. Lets enjoy each moment, free from the disappointment, free from the pressure, free from the expectations. In the end, life is just too short to be underwhelmed by anything.