noun ex·pec·ta·tion ˌek-ˌspek-ˈtā-shən, ik-\
Simple Definition of expectation
: a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen
: a feeling or belief about how successful, good, etc., someone or something will be
With the passing of another year, I find myself thinking about expectations. My culture and upbringing created expectations about the path my life would follow. The journey was supposed to look something like this:
- Go to college
- Start a career
- Get married
- Have a few childern
- Etc., etc., etc.
In the years after I graduated from college, my expectations about how my life would play out did not come to pass. I bounced around between graduate programs because I knew how to succeed at school, but did not know what I was actually good at doing. In my mid-twenties, I was disillusioned that my expectations about how life was supposed to go were not being met, even though unbeknownst to me, those expectations was not what I wanted anyway.
The Outward Bound course I took at the age of 26 forever changed my expectations. I learned to expect more out of life than working long days under fluorescent lighting. I learned to expect a life full of exploration, growth, and learning. Most importantly, I learned to expect more out of myself than settling for the expectations that my culture and upbringing had placed upon me.
Expectations can be both guide posts and trap doors, depending on how I approach them. Having expectations of myself keeps me accountable to the goals and values I am seeking to accomplish and nourish. Having expectations of how I would like others to behave or a given situation to play out is a recipe for frustration and disappointment.
I think it’s good to have expectations, but to carry them lightly. Clinging too tightly to expectations can easily lead to disappointment and frustration, and prevent me from seeing the other opportunities that are present in any given moment. When things don’t go as planned or hoped for, it is important to put down my expectations and accept the situation as it is, not holding on to what I wish it would be.
As the New Year begins to unfold, ask yourself what expectations you are bringing into it. How will you react if those expectations are not met? What will you do if there are?