If I’ve learned anything in my 24 years of living it’s that expectations will screw you up. Seriously, don’t put so many expectations or yourself, others, or situations. I remember back in the very beginning of college when I took a Sociology course on Marriage and Family. Literally, one of the best classes I have even taken, it actually introduced me, and prepared me for certain things i’d have to deal with in the future. One activity that still sticks in my mind is a timeline assignment we had to do. I walked into class that day and was immediately asked to pull out a slip of paper. I figured we would be taking notes on a lecture or movie, but no, she said create a timeline for when you want to get married, have kids, your career, etc. I excitedly put my pen to paper, I was good at this planning stuff! If you would have met me when I was ten you would have been shocked at how I planned my day to day or even future. I always have a plan, for EVERYTHING. It took me a few minutes to lay out my perfect plan, have by career settled by 25, Married by 26, children by 30. “Look at your plan” she said, “This is more than likely not going to happen. You can’t be sure what you’ll end up doing job wise. You never know who you’ll meet and when, and do you know how expensive children are? How will you know if and when you can afford them?” I was shocked and sort of pissed. How dare this professor tell us our plans weren’t going to work out, but you know what? I’m 24 and about to be married, I have still yet to find a career or what I’m passionate about, and I’m still unsure about children, but am totally up for having them younger than 30 or older.
I’m not just basing my theory off my own experiences; I see it happen all the time to those around me. Take another example, of my soon-to-be sister-in-law who although I have never had a close relationship with (a REALLY long story that deserves its own post) I’ve seen the effects of having certain expectations take their toll on her. Since I’ve known her which is going on 6 years now, she’s always had a boyfriend and always seems one step away from marriage, yet only one time has it reached engagement status only to later be called off. Is this because she’s horrible with relationships? Possibly. Or could it be that she’s allowed expectations to dictate her life? Bingo. She’s always been so focused on getting married, “In a few months we’ll be married, and by this time next year we’ll have babies”. I do not joke, this is a common thread for her, and yet it never seems to work out. Why? I honestly believe that she’s put too much pressure on herself to reach certain milestones at specific times, or reach them at the same time as her peers. Now that her younger brother is getting married her new focus with her new boyfriend is lets skip the whole marriage part, just go to the courthouse, get married, and have a baby STAT. Why the change of mind? Now that she has surpassed her ideal age to marry she feels that it’s time for children, or/and it could be because many of her peers have married and are moving on to babies. I’m not bringing up this example to bash her, truly, I myself have had similar expectations that have not been met at certain times and I would love to see her married with babies and happy as a lark, but I think her situation is a perfect example of how expectations can screw you up. Do I honestly think she does’t want the wedding she’s been talking about for 6 years? Nope. Her thought process, like many others (myself included) has led her to certain decisions that she may not truly want, but feels pressured into doing so she can stay in line with that “perfect” timeline.
So what am I trying to say? Don’t limit yourself to the expectations you set. Some expectations can encourage you to strive for success, but others just dumb you down. If you restrict yourself to certain expectations, you will set yourself up to fail, always. It’s normally to want certain things, or even expect them to happen, and it’s ok to feel sad/mad when they don’t, but force yourself to have a more realistic outlook on life. There will be things that happen that you can’t control, and there will also be times you can, but may make the so called “wrong” decision. Embrace it all, even the not so great parts, because really, the best part about life is the fact that things don’t always go as planned. How boring life would be if we knew every step of it ahead of time.