Expectations Vs. Reality
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
Hey, again! Happy Wednesday (or whatever day you're reading this), and welcome back to The Shower Thoughts Series. Today, I'm diving into expectations versus reality and how expectations can shape, and often derail our lives. We all know the saying "expect nothing and you'll never be disappointed". But, let's face it - we all have expectations about what our lives are supposed to look like.
While the timeline and details differ from person to person, general themes can be gathered: go to college, move to a city, get a good job, get married by 30, kids by 35, move back to the suburbs, etc. Even if this isn't what you have in mind for your life, chances are, you have some version of what you'd like your life to look like 5, 10, even 40 years from now and milestones that you'd like to meet. But, I want to dive into the pros and cons of setting up expectations for ourselves.
Okay, so what are some good things that can come out of setting expectations? First and foremost, this can keep you focused on what you really want for your life. Expectations can be like goals, in a way. Setting an expectation can keep you from veering off course, and can get you closer to achieving your desires - not to mention, giving you something to work towards.
Secondly, setting expectations, say, in your relationships, gives you and your friend/family member/partner a clear understanding of what is expected of each of you. This can foster healthy relationships and create open lines of communication.
Lastly, it gives you hope. Setting expectations for yourself and your life gives you something to look forward to. That's not to say don't enjoy where you are in the present, but it allows you to continue growing. Setting expectations can also give you a sense of purpose. When we have no plan, nothing to look forward to, and no goals...what is our purpose? It can be so easily lost. Having these throughout our lives keeps us grounded, in a way.
Great, we've covered the benefits of expectations. But what happens when our expectations don't match up to our reality? This is where the derailing occurs. Of course, there's no problem in setting goals for yourself - in fact, it's encouraged. The problem lies within the precision of these goals, where they are so strict that you will accept no other option.
For example, you wanted to be engaged by 25 but you're 24 and a half with no boyfriend in sight. You wanted to move out right after college but realize you don't have the funds. You set your mind on being a doctor and went to medical school just to figure out you'd really rather be a teacher.
Setting such stringent expectations on your life only sets you up for failure. Instead of dreaming about what could be, we dream about what we have created in our mind, has to be. And when it doesn't happen - we crumble. What most of us tend to forget is that nothing is promised to us. Not even the next minute! And not only that, but sometimes things are completely out of our control (like this virus). How can we expect things for certain when life is so uncertain?
This is what breaks us. He didn't call like he said he would, you didn't get the promotion you worked towards, your meal that you slaved over for hours came out awful. When we expect something to go a certain way and it doesn't, disappointment smacks us in the face. And yet, we do it somehow almost instinctively all the time. It's almost like we need to train our minds and say to ourselves, it's okay if this doesn't go as planned.
Is that the key? Giving ourselves the "okay" that a goal fell through, that we might not be where we thought we'd be at this point in our lives? I would argue that it is. Continue to make the goals, but give yourself the grace when things don't turn out as you may have hoped (also, if something didn't work out, something better is almost guaranteed to be on the way).
Life will come with twists and turns, but isn't that part of the fun of it? Would we even really want to have the exact life we planned out for ourselves? Maybe, but there's something amazing about not knowing where this life will take us and where our destination really ends. So, while we try to control so much of our lives - it's best to kick back, relax, (still set our goals), and rejoice in our reality, whatever that may turn out to look like.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you in my next post! If you'd like to receive post notifications, please subscribe! :)