Navigating Expectations

You’ve seen the quote and pictures on social media: “Expect nothing and you’ll never be disappointed”.

It often comes in the form of a self-serving & passive aggressive post towards a family member, coworker, or significant other; this has always turned me off and made me discount the sentiment. I am also of the mind that if you hold no expectations of yourself you’re not going to be able to reach many goals in life. Also, If you hold no expectations of the people in your life then you may accept treatment that your otherwise would not.

I think that some expectation is a reasonable product of having respect for yourself. However, after a discussion with a friend recently about some unreasonable expectations we have had in our careers and our love lives I’ve now began to began to wonder…

Just where exactly is the line between reasonable and unreasonable expectations? What is healthy and what is unhealthy? How do you expect enough without expecting too much?

It is possible to spend years beating yourself up about not being where you want to be career-wise or family-wise, or in your education. I know I’m definitely my own worst enemy when it comes to this. Despite the goals I’ve reached I never feel like I’m far enough; I feel like I could be doing better than I am. I don’t take the time to pat myself on the back and realize that I’ve done some very cool shit in my life. I have some pretty bad ass friends that have as well; amazing, strong beautiful women that have excelled in owning their own businesses, becoming doctors. They feel the same as I do. That they could and should be doing more, rather than just basking in the glory of their awesomeness.

My tendency to expect too much of myself bleeds over into my interpersonal relationships as well. I know I have expected too much from friends, family and relationships. I have at times expected people to give at the same level that I do, even when rationally I can understand that that is not their personality type or that their own personal “love language” is one that mine doesn’t so easily recognize. I know that I set myself (and them) up for failure when I think things should be a certain way in my head and when things don’t turn out that way. I have found myself upset in the past solely from expecting too much of someone, no fault of their own really. But again, what is expecting too little? Should someone just be happy with any kindness and ask for nothing else?

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Relationship propaganda, romantic movies and social media lead us to believe that our love should be our soul mate and they should fulfill all of our needs. Glossy magazine covers show us women who are outrageously successful, fit, run their own businesses, solve world hunger and write books on string theory, all while being mothers too! I do know that comparing yourself to these things or expecting these things is extremely unrealistic and detrimental. No one can reach your every expectation at all times, not even you. But I think that if you are realistic and honest enough with yourself and others then you can spend much less time being disappointed or sad and a lot more time just enjoying the ride.

I am making it a point to lessen the unreasonable expectations I’ve had a tendency of setting, of  both myself and of others. Sometimes all you can do is appreciate the now, appreciate your wonderful self, and appreciate people for who they are no matter their actions.

But I will never expect nothing at all.