Realistic Expectations

Adrian S. Potter
4 min readMar 28, 2019

Adjusting Your Emotional States with Alice Walker (The Secondhand Inspiration Project)

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

“Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.” - Alice Walker

I’ve recently become more aware of how I can influence my emotional states by managing expectations.

Now I know this isn’t some brilliant discovery. Mental health professionals and self-help gurus frequently preach this concept. Let’s call it a personal eureka — it took some time for me to recognize its impact. If I expect nothing to happen, then I limit my disappointment when it does. And this allows me to feel ample joy when something wonderful does occur.

A few months ago, I wanted to quit writing.

I spent years churning out poems, short stories, essays, research papers, reports, and articles that were published widely in various literary journals, blogs, magazines, and anthologies. Yet I still felt like a hack and a failure, mostly because I didn’t have a published book.

It may seem silly to think someone who had creative work included in more than 250 different publications and won several awards would think they are a failure. But it was true. In my mind, I sucked as a writer because I didn’t have a book you could buy on Amazon or see on shelves at Barnes & Noble.

Then something clicked. I became numb and stopped caring so deeply. Soon I pulled together a new poetry project with absolutely no expectations. That freedom allowed me to be creative in a manner that almost felt experimental. I noticed hidden meanings and themes running through pieces that I had previously discarded for dead. I tinkered with styles and concepts that I never used before. I edited poems that had once fell flat and transformed them into solid, entertaining pieces.

After two weeks, I had developed a new manuscript. After two more weeks of editing, I sent it out. I had no expectations. No hopes.

That poetry manuscript was accepted the first time I submitted it. The book is tentatively scheduled to be released in May. And I couldn’t be happier.

Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity ·