It seems like I’ve struggled against these all my life. From my parents’ expectations to society’s expectations, I find them restrictive and unreasonable. I know I have my own expectations of others as well but I try to keep them to a minimum.
People seem to think I’ll be something (you fill in the blank) and when I’m not they are disappointed. I say stop expecting me to be a particular way or to react a certain way or be whatever it is you think I should be.
Here is a perfect example. When I turned 40 everyone said I would be miserable. I would be sad and feel old. I didn’t. I actually liked stepping forward into this decade of my life. I felt better about myself in a lot of ways than I had in my 30s.
When my kids moved out, people said I would be sad and miss them. I love my girls. I enjoy their company. I enjoy spending time with them. When Ken and I had a few months with NO kids in the house, it was wonderful. We came together when we wanted to and avoided each other when we were grumpy. It was just us. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything.
The point of having kids is to raise them to be adults – hopefully responsible and independent. Not to keep them clinging to our sides forever. That is unhealthy.
Out of all the expectations, I think the ones that it is hardest to not meet are the ones I set on myself. It is easy enough to say to “them” that you shouldn’t have expectations of me and tell them to go jump in a lake (I’m being nice here). When it comes to my own expectations of myself though, these are the hardest for me. I don’t have a lot – probably because I don’t like them. But when I do fail to meet expectations, I beat myself up. These are the moments when I feel like a failure.
These are also the motivating moments for me. If I haven’t finished my to do list for the weekend, I am motivated to either keep working on it during the week or be more focused with the next to do list.
Expectations are hard because sometimes we can’t help but have them. Often they aren’t met. Sometimes they are ridiculous. Mostly they are unspoken.