I have a list of ideas of writing topics in my phone. Usually, these ideas come to me at a time when something has happened, and I’m feeling particularly inspired by whatever it was. A lot of the time, I don’t get around to writing about it before my fleeting feeling or passion has devoted its attention elsewhere. But every time I look back at the list, I find at least one idea that’s manifested itself in my life in a new way.
Expectations. I’ve found myself grappling with this concept in two different ways: expectations people have of me, and expectations I have of other people or situations. The former was the first idea to spark my desire to write. I’ve always been a very compliant person. I would argue that I go out of my way to make sure I’m always being the perfect friend – doing exactly what I think my friends and the people around me think I should do or want me to do. This past year, I was presented with some different challenges that I had no idea how to deal with. This alone caused me to act more “selfishly” than I typically would. I was not the perfect friend for a while, which caused many issues within myself. I felt anxious and guilty all of the time because of the pressure I felt to be a certain way. I came to learn that it was other peoples’ expectations of me that caused a lot of the issues. I had always been one way, and since I was acting differently I was all of a sudden in the wrong. At first, I was extremely disappointed in myself. I had put so much effort into being this perfect friend and I had let people down. Once I was more removed, I realized it wasn’t fair. Why should I have to be this way all the time? Why can’t I have a bad week, or a month, or even two? The pressure for me to always be doing the “right thing” wasn’t fair. I learned an important lesson from this: people having high expectations of you is a good thing, but being faulted for breaking those every once in a while isn’t. People mess up plenty. It’s healthy. It inspires growth. And being perfect all of the time shouldn’t be a standard for anyone.
The realization of my expectations of other people and situations and how they can let me down has been slower in its development, and less related to incident. I could think of several small examples to give, but no one big event or realization. I am in no way claiming that expecting everything to go perfectly is at all realistic, nor is it what I believe in. I’m more guilty of having my hopes too high and my heart too invested than anything else. Things like being completely involved in a person or a relationship and then suddenly losing that connection entirely, or something so, so good being dampened by silly things like circumstance, are the things that break my heart. I have trouble understanding why a good thing can’t exist forever, or can’t be good all of the time. I haven’t figured it out, nor will I ever. But what I have is that life’s not like that. It just isn’t. I don’t think it’s anything more or anything less than that explanation.
Expectations are tricky. A lot of the time they cause major let down. But taking a look at yours, or what others are of you, can open your eyes to a lot. You can adjust yours accordingly to soften a blow every once in a while. And you can learn about others of you and examine how they can contribute to how you see yourself, and whether they’re worthy of consideration. Maybe you’ll even learn some self-love and acceptance as a result.
I say always have high expectations – more often than not, they end up leading to success and happiness. But never put too much pressure on yourself or this world to fulfill them perfectly. Because I sure as heck can’t think of the last time life went exactly as planned.