Monday, February 7, 2011

Expectations Are Killing Us

How much do any kind of expectations influence or, in some cases, control your decisions in life?  It's easy to say, "You're not the boss of me. I do what I want!"  But it's as though we're confused. We do what WE want when it comes to honor, respect and good deeds and then blindly perform when it comes to social custom, media assumptions or false entitlements.  We can (mentally) spit in the face of someone 'suggesting' we do something good (like singing at a nursing home, visiting the sick, etc.) but we let society's standards shove us around. 

No matter what stage of life you're in, there are false ideas forging false expectations in our minds.  As a child, princesses and superheroes - both fantasy that while not necessarily bad they shape unrealistic expectations that are indistinguishable by impressionable minds.  Teenagers - false expectations about the opposite sex, sex in general, and what 'freedom' looks like.  (Young) Adults - school, marriage, cars, body image, working - what is necessary and when is it mandatory - false expectations swirl around it all, often leading to fouled up circumstances.  We haven't even discussed consumerism - the things we're convinced we need to buy - deserve to buy.  And that is a continual influence from childhood on.  All of this can create trouble. Trouble in finances, when you deserve more than you can afford.  In marriage (one of my greatest struggles), when you expect your spouse's words and actions to be like something out of a movie.  What we look like - we're obsessed  with it and know better but if we're not like the cover of a magazine, we're going to worry, self-hate and starve until we do. At work, when working hard feels like something you should celebrated for every day and if you're not maybe you'll just quit.  I could go on and on.

It's frightening to me how many arguments I've gotten into or bad decisions I've made because of some fake scenario or expectation to be 'like everyone else' that usually completely ignored reality and wisdom.  And I've done it all. I've gone shopping to 'make myself feel better' when I didn't have the money and whatever I bought didn't change the reasons I was feeling bad in the first place.  I've compiled all romantic relationships from all the movies I've seen and then built up the most suitable for myself, expected grand things from Randy (while not really informing him) and leaving him doomed to fail, disappoint me and not be very happy.  No matter what weight I've been, I've always hovered around discontent bordering on self-loathing, assuming the rest of the world is laughing at me.  Last but not least, I've gotten out of hard work lots of times. And when I decide (or am forced) to work really really hard and then I don't get a huge pat on the back or reward, I'm upset, throwing a pity party. 

Some things are human nature, sure.  We compare.  Keeps us honest, maybe.  But much of this is a direct result of American society.  I'm thankful - oh so thankful - for the freedom and little to no persecution we experience here.  But America's gifts aren't all good.  I don't have the answer (if you do, please share!), but look a little closer at why you expect things, out of yourself and those you love.  There's a good chance, sooner or later, that you've been lied to.

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