tl;dr - Watching videos of past BM celebrations is creating excitement in this burgin but now I have all these expectations!
Like many virgins, I heard about TTITD long before time, funds, and other logistics finally fell into place. For about four years, I fell steadily more in love with BM vicariously. I spent hours browsing photos. I watched the rocket "lift off" and the Man burn live through streaming videocasts. I even lurked in a BM IRC channel for a bit
In short, much of my determination to participate was fueled by the emotions stirred by online media.
The proverbial stars aligned for me this year. Cue even more time consuming published packing lists, blog posts, photoblog posts, videoblog posts, and years worth of eplaya "how-to" posts, some for the second or third time around.
I intend to continue reading up for the next half-year. In short, even if I haven't reached the point yet, I feel like I'll be a fairly well-educated virgin come late August. So here's my problem/question: I've noticed admonishments to come to Burning Man without expectations. Is there any advice for how I can balance excitement over fantastic YouTube videos, photoblogs and conversations with all you awesome ePlayans with the idea of coming with no expectations?
After a bit of introspection, here are some of the expectations I'm talking about: People
: The participants of BM will be awesome. They will be all types by age/nationality/sexuality/profession/etc., but they will be happy and helpful and perky and open and accepting. Even if I'm shy in the beginning, I'll be able to find lots of cool people. The "thinking" part of my brain reminds me that there will be leeches on the community, like bicycle thieves, the occasional loud/violent drunk who wanders into camp demanding X, Y, or Z, heck even just people who are there for the music and don't care the least for the 10 principles, but it's tough for this reality check to have much weight after reading the nth awesome post about playa serendipity, playa sunrises, or playa magic.
At some point I'll surely run into a grouch or have an instance of miscommunication. I need to let these moments roll off my shoulders, not shatter everything I hoped BM would be. Is being aware of this option enough? Distractions and commitments
: In the face of the rants about the city being flooded with clueless burgins, I often go back and re-read the many posts reassuring burgins that their (self-reliant) presence is all that's asked for, as opposed to cheap gifts or multiple 4-hour shifts volunteering. And still, I want to step up to the plate. In the default world, I consider myself to be a fairly reliable person. If I volunteer to serve a two-hour shift every afternoon for a week, I'll be there with my game face on. Now, I'm considering requesting to join a camp that requires a daily volunteering shift. The camp is well-known to welcome and support burgins. The photos and videos of the camp's activities are for me at least as iconic as the Man himself. So do I dive in with something I anticipate
I'll love on the basis of the emotion the idea stirs in me? Keep in mind I've been waiting years to get my butt to the dust.
I expect that I'll be able to live up to my commitments to the camp despite all the enticing things blinking around me in the city, but it's just that: an expectation. Emotions
: Anything goes. I may overflow with euphoria, I may break down crying, I may need frequent naps when I'm drained by overloading stimuli. Though I'm certain I'll love BM on the whole, I think I'm doing pretty good with leaving expectations wide-open here. Weather
: I know I'm a fairly hardy and low-maintenance gal but I have also seen enough videos and warning messages that I know to expect the temperatures on the playa will be hotter than I've ever experience and that the air will be dustier than I've ever experienced. This is one expectation that I'm actively trying not to abandon. Instead, I'm preparing equipment (handkerchiefs, googles, mask) and I'm preparing my attitude by coming in with a prepared mindset: weather will happen, embrace it.
I'll end with a story. Isn't the power of an appropriate mindset amazing? I lived in Japan for a while. The first day I arrived in my new home-village, the locals took me to the public baths. I forced myself to realize my two options: I could be body shy or I could embrace communal nakedness as a new cultural experience. Looking at the problem head-on made the decision so simple, almost trivial. I am trying to use that technique more often in my life and I think it serves well for the options of "bitch about dust/noise/drunk burners" vs. "dance in dust," provided I've come prepared with goggles and earplugs and a smile.
P.S. - Mods, please move this thread if you feel another board is a better fit. I put it here figuring questions about mental/emotional preparation are at least as important as "Which flavor of rebar goes best with bacon?"