Thursday, July 23, 2009

False Expectations

I definitely consider myself to be an optimist. I have a very positive outlook on life and am generally flexible and easy going. I would also define myself as visionary, with high standards for myself.

I think that because I’m an optimist, I visualize myself overcoming incredible odds to achieve an idea I have in my head, or if for some reason I have aimed too high and don’t achieve the dream, I look at all the positive things that did happen and how much I did accomplish in the process, while trying not to beat myself up for what I didn’t accomplish. This concept generally works better the more successful I am. Over the years however, I’ve noticed a tendency I have that seems to really work against me. It is the whole concept of false expectations.

Having unmet expectations is probably hard for anyone, but especially for people who paint a picture in their mind of how something is supposed to look or how a situation is supposed to turn out, and then it doesn’t at all, not even close! I can think of a few very specific examples of this playing out in my childhood.

One Christmas when I was about ten, I had asked for several specific toys. I probably got about 80%, but that didn’t seem to matter. Admitting my reaction is quite embarrassing, but true none the less; put plainly, I was very upset. I can remember crying endlessly over the toy I didn’t get, but had to have and couldn’t live without. Its not so much that I wasn’t happy with what I had gotten, I really wanted those things too, it was more about the anticipation in my mind of having all the things I wanted and being unable to see there individual value.

Or there was the time I begged and begged for a guinea pig because my friend had one and my life was incomplete without one. Honestly, I really wanted a bird and my parents said no, they had also said no to a puppy and a kitten, so I figured I’d try the guinea pig because it seemed like a lower maintenance pet. Well, my campaign was very convincing and won them over, but what I thought would fulfill my longing for companionship, turned out to be a boring lump of fur that I couldn’t train to do tricks or talk.

Again, I had set my expectations high and had been disappointed. I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t have expectations, but how do we have them without going overboard? There have been many times that shooting for the stars has really helped me thrive and accomplish many goals. You’ll be glad to know that I don’t throw fits when I’m disappointed anymore, but I still have to fight the disappointments I face in my everyday life, when plans don't work out, when I have to miss something I was looking forward to, when people don't cooperate, or one of my favorites- when traffic doesn't cooperate.

Finding this balance is a quest I’m still on.

1 comment:

kalea_kane said...

I guess the only thing we can do when our expectations are not completely met or something doesn't work out is to truly enjoy the ones that do work out and allow that joy to overshadow the funky junk.

I hear you though. :)