Expectations carry many forms and reflect themselves in almost every aspect of our existence. We often associate people with our expectations: how they disappoint or surprise us. Nevertheless, they are only small parts of the environment that we find ourselves in. What actually happened on move-in day or during something similar were probably nothing like or at least very different than what we pictured in our heads. Expectations very rarely align with reality, even if we choose it for ourselves.
These four years are used to buffer our entrance into the real world, to act as a transition or preparation period. However, temporary or not, we have to live with the decision we made to be here. Presumably, academics played a substantial role in our choice of which university to attend. We learn and develop skills that make us attractive to the arena of professionalism. The classroom is not the only environment where we accomplish this. On-campus jobs or extracurricular activities are also critical parts of active Brandeisians’ lives. Apart from preparing for the unknown events that loom ahead of each of us, we also take up certain routines that come with living on our own. Some struggle with the semi-regular task of laundry and others take up yoga to keep a balance. Whether it’s the big question about the future or the everyday of “What’s for dinner?” we expect things to go a certain way in the place we have deemed home.
What about the other places we have decided to spend our precious time? For me, I think of an off-campus boxing gym and an on-campus wet lab. I think of putting on gloves: the quiet crunch of velcro or the snap of latex. The smell of sweat and antiseptic sterility describe environments that I associate with precision. I can remember my first time in each space with clarity.
Each environment, at first, demanded different things, such as “uniforms.” Boxing was workout clothes, maybe spandex and sneakers. The wet lab was close-toed shoes and a lab coat. Beginners lacking prior knowledge are welcome to both of these worlds as experienced instructors are always available to teach. One taught me protocols and scientific background associated with immune responses while the other introduced eight different ways to punch. Working out or handling bodily fluids, these environments each came with their own set of expectations, what one should wear and what one should know.
Despite their apparent differences, I cannot help but see the worlds of fitness and science through one lens, where the goal of each is to gain competency in the intended action. Sure, one is slowly releasing a plunger in order to pipette properly, while the other is shifting weight in your hips effectively. Nevertheless, it is an expectation of your instructors and yourself to develop a skill you may not have previously had. In both of these activities, the first thing I learned about was safety. I wrap my hands to protect my knuckles and wrists. I put on headgear and a mouthpiece to prevent injury. I put on goggles to protect my eyes from sprays of chemicals and other fluids. Most importantly, I wear gloves in both, to protect myself and others. In boxing, it is about the brute force we are emitting to the heavy bag or a sparring partner, while in the lab, it is about not contaminating samples or exposing ourselves to sample contents. Boxing and lab work seem so different, but even the simple expectations of safety or gaining experience seem to be undeniable commonalities.
Sometimes, I put on medium-sized latex gloves, and other times, I put on fourteen ounce boxing gloves. There are chillier times in the future, where I am sure I will be putting on winter gloves, because I made the choice to go to school in New England. Our chosen environments are accompanied with a set of expectations. Our instructors ultimately want us to learn. Nevertheless, whether from our minds or our bodies, the expectations we have for ourselves are the ones that will ultimately become consistent patterns in our lives. As a college student, I wanted to develop skills and learn techniques from those who knew more than me in order to prepare myself for the future and keep myself balanced in the stressful sphere of college. As a first-year, I did not know how I would make those expectations into reality. Three years later, no matter what gloves I am putting on, I have found myself in environments where there are certain expectations of me, but also where I can fulfill these expectations and accomplish my goals.