Get Your Hopes Up: My Criticism of an American Idiom (Or Two)

Word up to the idioms on efficiency– a stitch in time saves nine, kill two birds with one stone… I can jump on the efficiency train. But I cannot get behind idioms on hopelessness and settling for less. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, they say. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch, they warn. Well then, do I even have anything to look forward to, you people who started this nonsense?!

While I fancy myself a fairly practical person, not putting my eggs in one basket has never been a strength. I only applied to one graduate program. I like to think of myself as committed and focused. I only had one plan for after I graduated from undergrad. I know what I want. Beginning my sophomore year of college, I began drawing life maps that took me up to thirty. To be honest, I’m not that far off from what I predicted.

Once I have an idea about where I’m headed, it’s hard for me to think of things going in any other way… Eggs in one basket.

Secondly, I make plans based on things that haven’t happened yet (and may never happen)… all of the time. Fine, most of the time they’re bad things. I am prepared to be homeless at one point in my life (again) and I have a homeless contingency plan (this is one of the many ways having a big family pays off). I don’t think this is what the proverbial “they” had in mind with the chickens hatching idiom, though. Nobody’s really counting on homelessness.

But, sometimes the things that haven’t happened yet that I plan around are actually good things. For example, I applied for this scholarship last month that would really lift the burden off of my future self, by way of lowering my student debt. I day-plan (more than a daydream) about what I’ll do with that $20 a month I’ll be saving myself in the future (it might actually be less than that– I haven’t actually done the math). Maybe I’ll even be able to afford to have children some day! … Chickens before they hatch.

The point is, what’s so bad about a little focus and dreaming big? Get your hopes up, collect eggs, put them in one basket and then count them before they hatch. What’s the worst that can happen?

Plan for greatness, but be flexible.

Categories: Day to Day, Mere Musings, On a Soap Box, the Human Condition | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Get Your Hopes Up: My Criticism of an American Idiom (Or Two)

  1. claire


  2. Aunt Mary

    You do whatever you want with your eggs and chickens and don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

  3. You can always sleep on our couch.

  4. theoldman

    There was a team of Basque handball players visiting Chicago for a tournament. They (like someone else I know) were inexperienced with revolving doors. On their way out of the hotel for their first match, they managed to get stuck in the revolving door. This delay caused them to be late for the game resulting in a forfeit. Since the tourney was single elimination, they were knocked out entirely. The moral of the story? Don’t put all your Basques in one exit!

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