"Expectations vs. reality" - a classic title of hundreds of memes circulating around the internet as well as a great subtitle for life. For most of us expecting is almost as natural (and as consistent) as eating or sleeping. Expecting is sometimes called planning, which is a more acceptable version of the same thing, because let's admit, most of our "plans" are just expectations that everything will work out in the way we imagine it. However, even if deep down we know that most of our expectations or plans (especially the ones that are born at 2 AM) will be altered by life, we still don't want to end up "a man without a plan a man without direction", so we keep expecting.
What did you expect?
..or what not to ask when someone is disappointed. I admit, I struggle with expectations or should I say taming them. It's hard to plan without expectations. My biggest expectations vs. reality clash happened on one of my planned solo trips. Traveling alone in a far away country was supposed to be this fun yet enlightening experience of me being open to the world and it's adventures and at the same time having daiquiris on a beach. Spoiler alert - enlightenment and fun doesn't go together that well, usually you get to have one or the other. In my case, I ended up crying in front of a Buddha statue which I don't think qualifies as having fun. If someone asked me what did I expect from that trip, the answer would be "definitely not that", but sometimes instead of getting what we want, we get what we might needed.
Since I started dancing, I'd hear people say: "Oh, you're a dancer? Aren't dancers supposed to be like.. really tall?". I'd usually answer that there is a 'short people' division too. In any case, this didn't bother me much, but sometimes taking classes and seeing long legged dancers sitting in splits as if it was the most natural pose to be in, I'd wonder, should I look or dance more like them?
A lot of self-expectations come from trying to create and fit into an image we have of ourselves. Mostly it happens subconsciously. It's the most human thing - we create stories to understand the world and ourselves - who we are, what we like, what our goals are. I used to think that the lamest thing was not to have answers about oneself - favourite colour, book, movie, what do you want to be when you grow up.. etc. Answers to these questions was supposed to secure me a spot into being a real self-actualised human being.
Now I'm much better at not needing to know. Not having answers how life or me is supposed to be and trying to take it as it is. We're all on such different journeys that comparing any two paths in better/worse dichotomy is quite senseless. Of course, seeing what choices others make is valuable: we can get inspired, we can learn, but the most important thing that comparing should bring is the ability to question. When we see someone working/living in a certain way, before we set new expectations for ourselves, we should be able to answer: 1) what attracts me to this person's work/life/looks and why? 2) is it something I want and need? 3) how does it fit with my priorities?
How do you love?
All relationships come with expectations and usually the more we love - the more we expect, the closer a person is - the more we demand (even if we like to think that we don't). Have you noticed how you can be much more forgiving to that friend you see once in a blue moon? And how much more easily irritated you become with friends and loved ones you see daily?
We also have quite high expectations of how we want to be treated and loved by others. When those expectations aren't met - we get disappointed. Depending on a heaviness of a situation, we might even start feeling neglected, abandoned or left out. Someone didn't have time for us, someone wasn't listening well enough, someone wasn't there for us in a way we needed. The problem is that most of the time, we're not able to communicate our needs or expectations, we secretly hope that others will read our minds. Unfortunately, we end up realising that we need to use good old words.. unless it's Ferrero Raffaello (because it's better than a thousand words).
Instead of concentrating how other's love and understand us or how they don't, we should concentrate on the one person we can actually (try to) understand - ourselves. How do you love? How in tuned with your needs are you? How do you communicate?
I had the expectation that..
Sometimes saying out loud "I had the expectation that..." can be the most relieving thing. Expectations don't have to be rational, in fact, most often they're complete opposite of that. That's why it's so hard to admit that we had them in the first place. For example, I always have this expectation that when I land, someone's going to meet me in the airport, even when I know no one will, even when I land in a country where I don't know anyone, I still glance at all the names on the papers with a very irrational yet persistent expectation that someone came to pick me up.
In relationships as well as in life, we should let ourselves admit that unwillingly we imagined scenarios, we hoped for certain things to happen and certain things to be said. But if we don't linger too much on them, we might get to a place out of our expectations, out of anything we could have hoped or planned for, out of our control. And that's the place where some of the most interesting stories will be born.