I was told to write a 15-sentence answer to this question: When in life do you learn to expect the unexpected? I don't really know of an answer. Can you help me figure it out?

The "expect the unexpected" question is a good one because it asks you to think about change, which happens all around you every day. Some things change because you decide to make them different. You change clothes, you change addresses, you exchange one class for another, you change the oil in your car, or you change your mind about the music you like. Those are changes that you — or someone you trust — put in motion.

Most change, however, doesn't check in with you before it happens. The sun comes out just when the weather report calls for rain, your substitute teacher loses the lesson plan, your prom dress catches and rips on your heel, a driver bumps into your car when you're on the way to the SAT test center.

Some people go back to the old saying, "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" to explain stuff that happens unexpectedly. They call that Murphy's Law. Others see good in all kinds of unexpected things — like medical miracle stories or people you don't know who come out to help you.

Here's a way you might start to notice unexpected events and how you respond to them. For the next week, make notes in a journal whenever you find yourself making an exclamation, like "Oh no!" or "Wow!" or "Unbelievable" or "YES!" You'll probably discover that you often have moments when what you see or hear or feel is a surprise to you. Those are the times when you probably were caught off guard by something you didn't expect.

The way you react to unexpected events has a lot to do with learning to expect some surprises along the way . . . and to know that life is supposed to be exciting, interesting, and unpredictable all at once.