Growing up, I had clear expectations for the kind of life I would lead as I matured, including what I would know, how I would behave, the kind of job and husband I would have, and so on. As I’ve gotten older, most of those expectations have died, but new ones never seem to fail to take their place.
We all have expectations for our lives and our careers – whether big or small, positive or negative, realistic or not – despite the fact that we’re often told how damaging these expectations are to our wellbeing. As 18th c. poet Alexander Pope put it, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”
As a still somewhat recent college graduate, I experience the truth of this statement firsthand on a regular basis. Transitioning from college life into adult life is far from seamless, and it’s a shift that forces me to evaluate with some reluctance where I am versus where I (and others) had hoped, or assumed, I would be at this point.
The truth is, in all of our lives, few things ever happen as planned and it’s a constant temptation to feel disappointed in how we don’t measure up to our expectations. Yet, when we grip onto these regrets, we close ourselves off to the beautiful realities present in each moment. We might not have the circumstances we imagined we would, but even so, there is goodness to be found all around us and incredible opportunities to be taken advantage of.
When we surrender our need for control and learn to trust the uncontrollable timing of our lives – embracing the “bumps” in the road as we go – we can unleash from the disappointment of unfulfilled expectations and start living the lives intended for us.
And once we let go of those things that aren’t meant for us, who knows? Perhaps we’ll discover something new about ourselves, make a friend, learn a lesson, or start to thrive more than we ever could have otherwise.
In the words of Rumi, “Do not worry that your life is turning upside down. How do you know that the side you are used to is better than the one to come?”
What are some expectations you’re holding on to? How do you deal with them in a healthy manner?
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