Expectations can be a bitch. Whether they come from ourselves and our own internal dialogue, or from others and their imposed views of what we should be, expectations can add a shit ton of pressure.
The real kicker? Expectations are not simple. The weave their way into all aspects of our lives. We are expected to be, to say, to behave, to live in certain ways. Sometimes that comes from us. Other times it comes from others.
But we also put expectations on others. Whether we care to admit it or not. We expect our family to love us unconditionally. We expect a certain level of service when engaging with retail or service based industries. We expect events to pan out a certain way, and we expect ourselves to live a life which is in alignment with who we are.
Expectations, in my world, are a twisted intertwined, often confused, often misrepresented, set of experiences we take as a given. And when our expectations are not met, or we do not meet the expectations of others, we are quick to make excuses, to justify our or others behaviour and to pass the buck so that we may feel as though we haven’t let the team down, or been let down.
I’ve seen a lot of memes about expectations creating disappointment. Setting people up to fail, and creating a sense of unjust between others.
I’ve also seen expectations push people, motivate them to stand up for their own sense of integrity and demand that they are treated in a human way.
For me, it isn’t expectations that is the problem. It is the systematic way we have used them to hide, to blame and to hate.
I challenge anyone who says they don’t have expectations to seriously reconsider that statement. Do you not expect to be treated with respect when you walk into store? Do you not expect to be able to walk around the streets safely? Do you not expect yourself to behave in a certain way?
When expectations are misused, to force your beliefs on another, to pressure someone into acting a certain way, to negatively impact a situation, then yes, expectation is the perfect breeding ground for contempt. But in my world, the concept of expectation is not in isolation.
A number of times I have felt conflicted with expectations. Both those I have imposed on myself and those which have been imposed on me. I won’t lie, in my life I have felt huge pressure from expectations. But it was and is never as simple as an expectation in isolation. There has always been another underlying construct creating an unhealthy expectation.
Because how can an expectation on its own hold so much power over us?
The truth is we let it. We expect ourselves to fall short, we expect others to fail. We choose to create an environment where expectations can only be bad.
But I also expect myself to push back in those situations. To put my own happiness first. To align my life and myself with what I know is right for me.
And the reality is when someone else pushes their expectations onto me, one of us will not have our expectations met. Sure as hell, it won’t be me.
Because I own my expectations.
Because at the end of the day, my expectations matter to me.
Because I worthy of creating my own journey, and I expect myself to do so.