I've been meaning to write this article for a whileee now. Constantly when something came up, I reflected on the topic of expectations and remembered I had a draft of this article saved on my Vocal page. So this is me getting around to it at 1:00 AM on a breezy Monday night.
Expectations. We all have them, no matter the situation. We might expect a lot from a trip, from a meeting, or from a relationship, and sometimes they're so high up, reality falls short of our imagination. Some people know how to handle expectations better, how to keep them within reach, and how to leave them aside from their actions and emotions. For others, it's harder.
Those of us who are mostly dreamers as opposed to realists have to actively stop our brains from creating a story in our heads before a specific event, encounter, or what have you. Others try to mend past mistakes or realities they wish had been different with expectations on the now. Unfortunately, there's a bigger chance we end up feeling disappointed than satisfied. Trust me, been there, done that.
The way I see it, the core of the problem is a simple one: putting yourself at the centre of anything you're involved in and measuring other people's actions or the outcome of different scenarios according to what you would have done, or what you would have liked happened. I know it sounds harsh, almost exaggerated, how something so small that we do constantly can have such a selfish connotation. But it does. And it also relates to another very important topic: living in the present.
Why is it so hard for us to live in the present?
The word "expectation" literally means: "a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future." And this is the beginning of the problem. Wether you have high hopes of getting a dream job, of meeting the love of your life on that blind date your goofy friend set you up for, or of patching things up with someone you care for, it is all in the future, and worrying or thinking about something that is yet to happen won't make any difference on the outcome. Reflecting on how you feel about the event is different, though.
Humans are passional creatures, just as we're rational we are very emotional. Hence, the many things we feel and sometimes can't explain with accuracy. We're always going to feel, and as long as we do, we know we're alive. And sometimes expectations come together with these feelings, and of course we'll acknowledge them, but we shouldn't feed them.
For me, expectations have often brought doubt and disappointment, and it has distracted me from the many things I love and enjoy, and has stopped me from being present. I'm the kind of person who cares deeply for issues that are close to my heart, and the kind of friend who is there for you, time after time, if a person has shown me kindness, loyalty, and trust. But sometimes, because I'm so focused on how I am and how I respond to certain things, I feel let down when people I care for act differently. Not to say they do anything wrong, they just function differently, and as long as they're doing no harm, there's no foul.
The beauty of this world is not only in its geographical and natural diversity, but also the diversity of its people. And while we all have weaknesses, we also have strengths and we should (as relatives, friends, partners, co-workers, etc.) put the latter ahead of the first, and leave the personal growth for each individual.
Even for super organised people like myself, the thought that often the most unexpected stories or plans are the most exciting applies. So while it's great that we have dreams and plans for the future, I think it's best to keep them at the end of the horizon, with many possible paths open to take us there. There's no specific way, and no perfect person, just some that fit best with our own personal stories.