Unmet Expectations: The Root of All Evil

 

Thinking a lot about expectations today. I once expected that all of my needs in every area would be met by my parents. They’d keep me full (physically and emotionally) and make sure I had all that I needed. I had pretty good parents, (certainly as compared to some I’ve heard about). So by and large, those needs were met pretty well. Sure, I got mad or upset with them, but they did the best they could.

As a pre-teen and into my teens, I think I transferred those expectations to boys. If I met the right boy, it would make me feel wonderful and fulfilled and all would be well.

When I was a child, as well as when I got closer to adulthood, I began to seek out the meaning of life; to understand religion and all things philosophical, and for a long while felt fulfilled following religion. But there were times, I fell hard. I would realize that people in churches were also human and fallible. Religions were man-made and far from problem-free.

My expectation was that having faith would totally fulfill me and perfect my life. Logically, I always knew this wasn’t so, that nobody is perfect, and even faith itself is not perfect. But many, myself included, at times in my life, have found great pleasure and fulfillment in church communities, gathering with other people who were at least somewhat like-minded, looking to something above and beyond ourselves for answers. It was, in a measure, fulfilling. At least I could feel as though I was being and doing everything I was supposed to do and be. Or, I thought so at the time. There is something true and real in seeking out the un-understandable; at least for me, there has been. I used to think I had a handle on some things. My ducks were in a row, my boxes were secure and ticked.

My view of God and of spirituality is totally different now. If only I could relate this eloquently and in a manner others could understand, but I’ve tried, and I can’t. I’m letting it go, (the need for others to understand).

Spirituality is a lifelong process, I know that now. To grow in every area, you must be willing to change, to take what the Creator brings your way. I’ve had to learn to grow through things, not shut down. My faith looks nothing like it did twenty years ago, or even ten, and I’m convinced that’s by design.

I expected as an adult to have a long, healthy life; particularly once I began to figure out how to eat better, exercise and take care of myself. This is another expectation that isn’t necessarily reliable. Nobody knows how many days or years they have on this planet. At least nobody on this side of the divide.

I expected that 2 and 2 would always equal 4. That things were always black and white, that things would always make sense. I have now acknowledged the gray.

I never expected that I’d have auto-immune disease, or any of many other things I’ve dealt with and deal with daily.

I never expected to get old. This is a tough one, because everyone knows they will age, yet somehow, we’re never really ready for it when it comes. In my twenties and thirties, I probably would’ve said that being in my fifties felt like it was a million years away and unfathomable; yet here I am. A grandmother several times over.

Some expectations have been met, and some things are far better than even I imagined. I have an amazing life partner and husband, three beautiful and amazing grown kids. I have a truly wonderful life.

And I still feel myself setting up expectations in areas of my life that blow up in my face.

My husband isn’t responsible for my happiness or fulfillment. That was a big lesson to learn. I enjoyed the tear-jerking, earth-shattering, unbelievably blessed years and moments of raising kids, but ultimately, I can’t lay my happiness at their feet or at the feet of “family.”

I know some truly unique and loving people, friends. Can’t lay my expectations there, either. People often end up being (shock) very human in the end. I’m learning to let them be.

I’ve learned that happiness, joy, fulfillment, it only comes from the inside out. It isn’t about the outer, it’s about the inner.

And the journey led right back to me.

I now know I should keep my expectations right where they belong; in check. Right here at my feet, at my door. God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

Ultimately, I have zero control over most things. I make decisions and deal with the consequences. And when life doesn’t go as planned, and expectations aren’t met, I come back to this; God and the universe does their thing and I do mine. Everyone else does theirs.

That’s just the way it goes. And that’s okay.

 

Hangin’ In (Enjoying the Journey)

It is such an incredible joy to be able to do what I love to do and focus only on creativity and artistic endeavor at this point in my life. I know that people often feel the need to do what it takes to pay the bills (and responsibility is a very good thing), but these days I can’t imagine spending 40 plus hours a week having to do something to further someone else’s agenda rather than my own.

I’m incredibly blessed at this stage, that I can work at my own pace without the lights being turned off for lack of payment. But I don’t know many who got to such a place quickly or easily.

Even so, I’d encourage every person to search after work that feeds their soul as well as their tummy. I was always pretty good with office work, and I find that if you’re good at something, you tend to enjoy it a little more. I also have an undying love for coffee, and worked at coffee shops more than once in my life. I’ve had several “normal” jobs in my life (meaning outside the realm of artistic endeavor; writing, painting and the like). But even while you’re doing what you have to do, try extra hard to make it something you’re passionate about. It will make those work hours go by faster and easier.

My husband, BFF and business partner is a tech genius in my estimation.  I couldn’t do what he does any more than he could write a fiction novel, but he’s good at his job, which makes it a little bit easier to expend a lot of his life doing it.

We only get this one life. I find it to be a necessity to do what you love, (even if you have to do something you love a little less until you can do what you love a little more–later on down the line.)

Hang on, don’t give up on your dreams. I’m holding on and hanging in, even when people aren’t throwing money at me for doing it. Because I insist on enjoying the journey–every single day that I can.

Journey Well!

I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery, a deep, personal, spiritual journey, for, well, many, many years, but on a different level–for over seven years now. Here are some conclusions I’ve drawn:

Nobody will every be their best until they take the time to do the work; unpack their baggage, face their demons. You can coast along, same stuff different day, until the day you die, but growth takes courage, time and the willingness to change.

People, by and large, believe that anything with the word “self” in it, means you’re being selfish. Self-discovery, self-esteem, self-confidence; but the exact opposite is true. All of these things are essential to be who you were meant to be, so that you can ultimately be a positive influence on those around you and accomplish all the things you’re called to do. Do the work. There are no short-cuts.  People may call you selfish, but one of these life lessons, is knowing who and what to listen to; don’t fall for it. People say a lot of things. That’s their limited perspective, not your reality.

I do believe there can come a time when it’s time to put away the self-analyzing behavior. You can get stuck in there, so be careful not to. Unpack your bags, figure yourself out, love yourself, then, after all is put away in its proper place, turn and face the world again, with newfound strength and abilities. There does come a time when you’re healed enough to be outward-focused without doing damage to those around you.

You never truly “arrive” because life is, after all, a continuing journey. There is no final destination; face each morning as it comes, prepared to conquer one day.

Journey well, my friends!

On Growing

 

You wake up one day and realize it’s your first day of first grade and everything is new and exciting and you feel so big and bright and cute and special, because your mom told you so.

Next thing you know you’re in the third grade crying in the cloak room because somebody made fun of you. You don’t feel special, not at all.

Then you’re starting the tenth grade and you just know it will all be different this year, you’re coming into your own, you have friends, everything will be okay. And then of course it isn’t, it really isn’t. Your best friend betrays you. Boys tease you. Your body has changed so much you don’t recognize yourself anymore and all you feel is… awkward.

Then comes graduation day, that best day of all days when your whole life truly begins and everything will be great because you’re all grown up and make your own decisions. The world is your oyster.

But there is no pearl.

Living somewhere costs money and you don’t have any, and believe it or not, people don’t really love you coming over to visit and then just moving in. Things are expected of you. Responsibilities. You have to get a job. You have to eat.

So you meet someone and you marry because then, oh boy, then you will really have it all. Someone is going to take care of you and make you happy now.

And they do, until… until they don’t. And then it’s all just too much, you can’t take the fighting, and you finally leave, you get out, because then you’ll be free and happy at long last.

Except you aren’t.

And on and on it goes until one day you awake and look in the mirror and there you are, that little girl—eyes and heart all full of hope now gone—and in her place is an old person, staring back at you.

Your kids, they’re brilliant diamonds but they grew up.

They left.
You’re alone.
Again.
Unhappy.
Again.

And then one morning as you look into the mirror searching for the little girl inside, you see a spark. “There you are, you stupid girl. Why did you always expect so much of everyone and everything? And all along you were right there.”

“I just wanted love. I just wanted acceptance. I just wanted happy,” the little girl says.

And you say back to her, “The capacity for all of those things was right there inside of you the whole time.”

And you smile.
And you laugh.
And you find that you can choose it all for yourself.

So simple, yet not so easy.