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Expect-o-Meter Adjustments

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I became aware I had an expectation “problem” while standing opposite a large wall of mirrors in my bathing suit and when my ten-day run of antibiotic was failing for my strep throat. Also when my four-year-old would rather be belligerent to his Mommy than take care of nature’s call. The difference between being happy and being aggravated is in the raising or lowering of life’s expectations accordingly. If I smash the square peg of reality into the round hole of expectation, I can expect a bad day to follow. I have had a former lifetime of those and called it self-sabotage. Such a nineties dysfunction.

I could define expectation as a desired outcome from a specific event, myself, my life, or the people in it. I am completely unaware of my expectations until I suddenly feel a strong feeling such as disappointment or anger. This was probably due to improper usage. How have I applied my expectations? An example of a good expectation could be to set a smaller goal to achieve an ultimate outcome. If I expect my son to make his bed and set the dinner table, hopefully, over time, he’ll develop his own goals with the ultimate outcome of his higher self-esteem.

I had no goals, boundaries, and no one held regular expectations of me growing up. I headed in quite the wrong direction. I expected the world to crap on me and it did. I expected men to be mean and self-serving, and they were. I let myself be used more times than I would care to now count. Does self-fulfilling prophecy sound familiar? Expectation creates outcome. I earned my college degree but hadn’t expected to hate the field I’d chosen. So I went ahead and got married and expected this to be my new self-definition. I did not expect the debilitating misery of working two waitressing jobs to support the ex’s “habits.”

But in an unprecedented maneuver, I bucked my expected crappy ending. I perceived of a possibility I’d never imagined. A destination I hadn’t expected to be entitled to. Happiness. Without a destination possibility, there’ll be no expectations to guide you there. Expectations can serve as a bridge from here to the future. That’s a good application too. My ex-husband didn’t expect me to leave him and the credit counseling service guy said my credit was so bad, I should seek legal counsel. Not.

My self-esteem was my reward for the risky expectation of a better life. So were a new husband (a guy who I never expected could exist) and our new house and life together. I finally dared to expect I could trust myself and I became reliable. I had raised my expectations in a way that gave me hope. If you dare beyond hope and expect there’s a better possibility, that’s faith.

When people say “What did you expect”, I think they’re really saying “No, duh”. Society, it would seem, already knows not to expect specific behaviors from others. That’s a bad application of expectations. My child taught me to never expect any specific sleeping, eating, or pottying behaviors from him. I can’t expect my husband to see the object directly in front of him nor for him to read my mind at any given time. He can not just know the reason why I am mad at him. Or know where exactly he needs to turn off right now to find Mommy a potty to use.

The unrealistic setting of the expectation can be its undoing. If I set the expectation too high, I assure my failure and my self-esteem is the sacrificial lamb. But at least I get to continue that comfortable crappy feeling. It will not make me happy to compare my body with those of the fabulously rich or really young. I can not afford the personal trainer, nanny, tailored clothing, or personal live-in chef either. And I am no longer nineteen, at least on the outside.

Realistically, I need to find out what’s “normal” for over forty. What’s the average-meter supposed to read here? I am happy to say I can run six to nine miles in a week. I call my physical state “fit-fat.” But I live a little easier every day knowing that exercising is off the to-do list. It’s just expected. The exception to prove the rule was this week when this article failed to write itself. Mostly, if I just expect it to be, life seems easier. In some instances, expectations have become my friends. And happiness is my outcome.




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