Lately I’ve been pondering expectations and how they have changed (or not changed) over the past decade or so of my life. Expectations, specifically from the people in our lives, can be a sticky area to navigate. We all have different ideas of how people should treat us and how we would treat others, and expectations form a large component of this perception. I know how I felt when I was in medical school, and a very close friendship began to disintegrate. That was a complicated time that I still at times find myself trying to figure out, but one of the things I realized about my friendship was that I could not keep up with this friend’s expectations of me. And her expectations of other people, no matter how close or distant, became more clearly unrealistic and demanding. I saw how they affected her; when she was disappointed, the disappointment was deep and painful. I am sure that the people who injured her so were not even aware of it. I figured this out when I became the person who hurt her, partly due to my not fulfilling her expectations.
Recently I have become acutely aware that I am similar to this friend in many respects, still, in that my expectations of my friends and family members have led me to feel repeatedly hurt, forgotten, or ignored in various situations. I can think of a few instances in which I felt personally injured by a friend when in retrospect it was not their intention at all. Everyone has their own lives and obligations, and just because I think I would go out of my way for someone else, it does not mean that that effort is always needed or even wanted. There are definitely some instances in which my expectations are totally rational and logical (as my husband will attest to, since we have encountered a handful of seemingly DENSE people who either have no clue what social norms and etiquette would require, especially among family members, or they have every complete clue but choose to do the opposite, all the while expecting US to do what THEY would not do (!!!)). Anyways, tirade aside, I am trying to start turning a new leaf in this area of my life. If I can let go of certain expectations, it can be freeing for not only me, but also my loved ones who might otherwise end up feeling the way I did with my old friend. And I definitely do not want that to happen.
Do you ever feel like your expectations hold you back or cause you grief? Are they expectations of others, yourself, or of the way things ought to be?
3 Comments Add yours
This is timely for me- thinking of one relationship in particular in which expectations created conflict on both ends. I am going to have to think about this some in regards to that person. Your post makes me think of Don Miguel Ruiz and his 4 agreements- number 3 being Don’t Make Assumptions- come to think of it, also expectations. Thanks for the food for thought!
This brings up an interesting issue of maintaining friendships as we get older. As more of us have families and move to different areas of the country, it becomes difficult to maintain friendships in the ways that they were created. Unfortunately, we don’t have many opportunities for dorm room chatter or star-filled contemplations. Sometimes, that’s what is needed though and it’s important to recognize when you’re needed (and vice-versa).
Totally agree! It is hard to transition from being with a group of friends for years at a time and then not being around them for months on end. It takes effort, but as we get older I think we realize who to make that effort for.