I’ve always been a dreamer. I’ve always had grandiose ideas of how things would happen (never once believing they would ever be a reality). Maybe it makes me an optimist…..maybe it just makes me crazy! I would like to think that some of my dreams and wishes and ideas would become a reality one day, but I just can’t shake the sting of reality.
And it’s not because I’m hopeless and lack any capacity to hope in my life. But one can only have their hopes and dreams dashed so many times before you start to give up on all of those other hopeful aspirations. What is more likely, in my given scenario, is that my patience level (or lack of patience) is reached before any expectations can be realized.
I have a hard time waiting. Like, it’s excruciating for me to stand by and just quietly wait. One, I’m rarely quiet. Two, I just hate waiting. Over time, and having children, I’ve become “better” at it, but I’ve far from mastered the skill. I’ll forever be a work in progress when it comes to waiting. Sometimes it’s a good thing and I push for an answer while people are on their own clock. Other times, it comes to bite me in the, well, you know what.
And now as I’m approaching 40 (much too quickly I should say), I wish things were done differently in my past. Maybe if I had spent more time being patient and waiting and not rushing things, my outcome would be different. Maybe I wouldn’t have these grandiose dreams and desires for a different life.
I’m not saying my life is awful. It’s not in all reality. I have two amazing boys that are smart, well-adjusted, happy, caring, loving, and all around great kids. I have a loving boyfriend who treats me well and makes me feel safe and comfortable in our life. I have a roof over my head, a car that runs (most of the time!), a good job, and enough money to pay my bills. Things are tight sometimes and I struggle during the month sometimes, but I rarely go without. Of course, I don’t have all the extra things that many people enjoy, but I’m happy.
Of course, my life isn’t perfect. I’m a divorced mom with two children. I have shared custody of my children, so I don’t always get to see them and there are days that I don’t see them because they are with their father. I miss my boys, immensely, when I am not with them. I know that I “should” appreciate the time I get to myself, and enjoy that “freedom” that not everyone has, but I don’t. I WANT to spend more time with my kids. I ENJOY the time I am with them (mostly – hey, boys will be boys!). I wish I wasn’t the divorced mom that has to shoulder the weight of raising my boys. Yes, their father helps to raise them when they are with him, but it’s not that we raise them “together”. I guess it’s hard to explain if you aren’t a “single parent” navigating the waters such as I am.
And of course, I would love that childhood dream of a wedding to come to fruition for me one of these days. I’ve never had the chance to pick out bridesmaid dresses or even HAVE bridesmaids. My first wedding was a trip to the Justice of the Peace with a few family members as witnesses. Again, because we weren’t patient and just rushed into things. And look how that turned out…I digress.
I’m not saying that I HAVE to have the big fancy wedding. In fact, I know that we CAN’T afford what my childhood dream wedding would consist of. But in all reality, who really can? Because of hastily made financial decisions in my past, finances will always be an issue going forward. Lessons learned, and in all honesty, I’m better off in the long run. But the expectations I’ve had in my life for the wedding I’ve wanted to have is one that I’ll need to put out of my mind. Because reality comes into play big time in that planning.
Just like my wedding “expectations”, I had a lot of expectations growing up, both placed on me and self-imposed.
I was expected to attend a Christian college right after high school and graduate in 4 years, possibly be married or engaged at the end of that college stint and start a family shortly thereafter.
It took me almost 10 years to finish my college degree. I attended a few different colleges, changed my major so many times I’ve lost track, moved, gotten various jobs and then eventually got married. I WANTED to finish my degree BEFORE I had children, and I almost made it! I finished up my degree a few months after I had my first son. It wasn’t ideal, and it wasn’t the expectation of most people of what would happen, but it DID eventually happen.
I was taught growing up that friends would come and go into our lives, but family would always be there. That was the expectation I had growing up.
It’s taken me a long time to be comfortable with how this plays out in my life. I’ll be honest and say that I’ve not fully been able to come to grips with this. You see, throughout all my struggles in life, I have found that my friends are the ones that have stuck around. Of course, there have been friends that have come and gone. That’s just how life plays out. You grow apart from people and eventually part ways. That’s just how our lives play out on a daily basis. But through my divorce and subsequent trials, I’ve seen that my friends, my TRUE friends are the ones that stuck around. I had high expectations that my family would be there for me. And some have. Don’t get me wrong. But there are some that I thought would have stuck by me, but they haven’t.
You see, you grow up one way being told one thing. You are told what to EXPECT in life and that a, b, or c is going to be the only options and that’s how it’s going to be. But in all reality, it’s wrong. You can hope and expect until you’re blue in the face. But until you are faced with reality and the specific situations at hand, any and all expectations fly out the window!
I fully expected that my life would turn out a certain way because I stopped attending church. It didn’t.
I was told to expect to be single after my divorce indefinitely because that’s how it was supposed to happen. It doesn’t.
I fully expected certain family members to stick by me and support me in my time of need because that’s what family does. They didn’t.
You see, expectations, great or small, can work for us or against us. They can bring us closer to our desired reality or push us further away from the expected outcome. I don’t think that having expectations is a bad thing in and of itself. It’s when our expectations are too far reaching. It’s good to have dreams and aspirations. It’s beneficial to set goals and attempt to reach those goals. But it’s also wise to not set yourself up for failure either.
Be realistic. That’s the mainstay thought I must have. Have REALISTIC expectations in life. Will you have to lower your expectations and desires? Most likely. But that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your ultimate desire to succeed. Sometimes you just have to readjust the route you have to take. But in the end, the only expectation we can ever have, is to be happy. Do what you need to do, and take whatever road you need to take to get there. But in the end, when I peel back all the layers of expectations, if I find myself happy and content in the end, that’s what matters most.
Sure, I have big dreams and high expectations in life and for myself. And what I can attain, I will. But what I can’t reach or have as my end game, I will put the expectation of ultimate happiness on myself. And that’s all I can expect of myself and those in my life. I have high expectations for my own happiness. And those expectations are within each and every one of us.