I wanted to take a moment to write a little about expectations.
How many of us can admit at various points in our life, that we have felt legit expectations? Whether in the form of expectations someone has had for you, or expectations you have had for another person/situation, or expectations even you have had for yourself. It’s a pretty broad topic, so let’s unpack it a little.
First let’s talk about expectations that have been made clear. These might come from situations such as work, religious affiliation, rule books, behavior on an airplane to name a few; This would be something that almost anyone could look at and say, “Yes, I know the rules for this/I’ve read the handbook/I’ve had the orientation/I’ve been taught the parameters.” This is broad of course, so bear with me, I am aware that there could be a million caveats.
Next let’s mention expectations that may be not-so-clear. These might be scenarios that you have experienced before, but in a slightly different way. Let’s say you have a similar but different job, you are visiting a similar but different church. Examples of these are scenarios where you may have a basic understanding of expectations, but you are drawing that out of a comparison, or a memory, or an experience, and it may not be a scenario that is laid out in black-and-white for you. These scenarios will require clarification.
And lastly I want to mention personal expectations. Examples of these could include all interpersonal relationships in your life, family, significant other, coworker, stranger on the street, friends, even yourself. This is a scenario you are in where you think to yourself, “I know what this person should be doing,” or, “I should be doing x,y,z…” These are conclusions you draw yourself based upon your own likes and dislikes, you own personal experiences, your own set of goals and desires; but they also spread outside of yourself to involve other people you encounter. They can be biased in a way, because these set of expectations involve much more freedom to choose. These expectations will vary from person to person, and will be much more in line with personality differences, than a rule book.
So how do we handle different expectations in our life, and how do we differentiate between what is realistic and what is not? The results, after all, affect the way you evaluate your happiness, or contentedness, or success in this life.
First, let’s set aside which ones are something that need to remain as-is. For example, which expectations are coming from your job? If you want to keep that job, succeed at that job, then those expectations must remain unchanged and you must follow them. Consider this category already figured out.
Next, let’s think about which expectations in our life might be a requirement, but of which we still need some clarity. These will be expectation that you are fairly certain is a requirement, but you need to find the answer on. Find the answer.
Lastly, look at any questionable expectations you have floating around in your life of a personal nature. I know for me, and maybe some of you, these in the last category can sometimes feel like the biggest, the most important, the most influential, the most realistic. Maybe they are, but the fact remains that these expectations can also sometimes be unrealistic. This is based on the previously mentioned theory that these expectations can stem from personal interests, personality differences, past experiences, personal goals and gains that may or may not be positive in nature. This requires a lot of personal unpacking I think, to examine the expectations you may have of others in your life, and decide for yourself if those are realistic. After all, it’s very difficult to know for sure what exactly someone else is expecting of your life, or control that, so let’s just look at what you expect.
If you are like a lot of people I have met, maybe you haven’t given much thought into what you expect out of your life or others! This isn’t an outrageous discovery. Many people throw themselves into roles of care-taking, or simply always thinking of other people before themselves, and over time realize they have forgotten who they are. Maybe you find you have just thrown yourself into particular roles involving your career or relationship or any other various category, and simply gotten so caught up in those “rules” that you forget who you are outside of that role. Oftentimes this can happen over time without you even realizing it.
I believe you have to re-discover who you are, in order to be able to orient what is realistic and unrealistic about your life. If you believe in God, remind yourself who God says that you are. Our worth in God’s eyes is laid out clearly all through the Bible. We are “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.” God has a purpose for our life, to have hope and a future. John 8:32 says, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” You are loved by God, not because of what you’ve done, but because of who you are. The Bible tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He longed to have a relationship with you even before you became His child! Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Rediscover the things about yourself that you enjoy. What did you really like to do when you were a kid, before all the pressures of careers and relationships and performance came into the balance? Do you still do any of those things?
We are not bad people, for having unrealistic expectations at times, that happens. We have to realize that if we only surround our self with expectations that are unrealistic, that we will constantly be disappointed. We will constantly feel like we are struggling just to keep our head above water. We will find our self losing focus on what is good, not having gratitude for what we have, and instead obsessing over what we believe we don’t have. Without realizing it, we mentally created expectations of others that they should not have to reach for us, or expectations of our self that shouldn’t be our focus.
True acceptance of others, and of ourselves, comes from knowing who we are, as God’s creations, and knowing the plan He has for us and the reason that we are here. It comes from reminding yourself what is truly important in this life, and not losing sight of gratitude. Let’s not get so caught up in worldly gains and selfish goals that we forget that our first purpose is to Love. Love above all else. Love in everything you do. Every job you take, every person you meet. This is not about letting go of all goals! … but about hanging onto the goals that are truly important in this life and the next.
These words are just my two cents today. They are something I needed to remind myself of, and figured I would share, in case they were helpful to you. Take what you need and leave the rest.