The Price of Expectation

note to self

The last week was the kind of week where you come in the door and plop down on the bed.  Emotionally and physically drained from the demands of the day. I felt utterly useless outside of work and utterly overwhelmed while there.  How can dashed expectations in a new situation completely obliterate hope?  Is my resilience really that shallowly rooted? My mind began to race and anxiety set in, and naturally my life was going to be hard drudgery for the next 20 years.  But you’re expected to work –  and hard -and you have so many blessings, so it’s okay to be a little miserable. Or so the lies that anxiety whispers in your inner chest says.  It is small, but strong; a deviant bully to truth which completely wipes out reason and the Spirit.  The price is high and the predictions false when you listen and believe this hectic silent message. It is a vortex and we need to learn how to stop it when in full spinning force. The problem with having high or even no expectations when walking into a situation is one way or the other you are caught off balance – your inner equilibrium completely disrupted. It’s interesting how fast a tide can turn from the gentle waves of accepted routines and certainties to all out existential wipeouts.  I tried to brace myself expecting the pulse and temperature of the current to change beforehand, but the experience does the talking. Amid self-talk, resolves, and friends that reminded, listened, laughed and helped me forget, I gathered my footing and collected rules for myself. Our own doctrinal counterpoints underpinning the reminders that apply to many situations and hopefully lead to truth and calm. For me, here’s what  I need to remember to stop the spiraling vortex of expectation.

 

1-    You were not hired to be a circus performer. This one came straight out of my friend’s mouth when I was listing my newly concocted “expectations” in my own version of my job description. You don’t have to constantly be the most engaging and entertaining.  Be authentic and if that means calmer and quiet than certain people’s expectations then so be it.

 

2-    Live in the moment.  Aren’t we sick of this phrase yet?  But it is true.  When I focus on the task at hand time takes care of itself.  So when it’s the weekend, leave Monday’s anxieties till Monday.  When you get to watch a movie, or go out, be fully present.  The clouds lift when you are mentally and emotionally conditioned to do this. Which leads to….

 

3-    Set boundaries.  Keep your word to yourself.  This is just as important as keeping your word to bake 50 cupcakes for Scouts, or to go do dinner with an old friend.  What do you need to do to make yourself feel grounded?  Yoga?  Consider it an appointment.  Leaving work at work? Stay the extra half hour so you are not letting the task list whip you at home.

 

4-    You can be uncertain and believing at the same time.  Have faith and live in the known and unknown grasp that whatever it is you want can happen.

 

5-    Do what works for you.  I love the quote “comparison is the thief of joy” by Teddy Roosevelt because it is true!  When I started comparing my job or self to another’s style misery sets in, self doubt reins supreme, and the storm of despair is full blown. Do not let other’s expectations of what you should be doing or how it looks decide for you.

 

6-    Find the fun.  What is it that reboots you and reminds you that life is wonderful?  Who is it that helps you along this road?  Go do it, find them, allow yourself time for this. Expect it even.

 

What reminders do you need in your life?  Share some of your wisdom that brings serenity now! How have expectations been a good or bad thing in your daily life? 

 

About Jennie L

(Prose Board) is from Salt Lake. Teaching high school English has taught her many things, including how to sing the parts of speech, and break up hall fights, but perhaps most important, spending her days with words and writing continually reinforces their power. Give her a beach, some dark chocolate, friends and family and she'll be one happy girl.

10 thoughts on “The Price of Expectation

  1. you are a wise women. I wish I had understood the importance of your list years ago when I was young and trying too hard. especially, did I need to learn to do things the way that works best for me and not feel the need to explain my personal style to the naysayers.

  2. 2 points especially resonated, I.e. 1&2. Even in church callings we weren’t “hired” per say to be anyone or anything other than ourselveswith our own particular abilities and talents. Livin in the moment is such a critical key to contentment, quality of life and decreasing stress.
    I too wish I had had this list at a younger age. As a convert of only a few years and then a young married and a mother, I felt such pressure to conform to “Mormon Culture”‘s expectations for those 2 roles. I am finally comfortable in my own skin after a long, long time. Is it still that way for young marrieds and mothers or are you able to be more of an individual? I had no aptitude for sewing and remember the tears and expenses of trying to sew ski outfits because of the expectations of Relief Society sisters in our ward to march to the same drummer. What a light bulb moment when I separated the culture from the gospel. Hopefully that’s an antiquated experience.

  3. This spoke to me this morning. I’ve had a LONG long weekend and am still feeling kinda down this morning. My divorce from a cheating ex was finalized two weeks ago and a lot of your suggestions apply to me just trying to navigate my new reality with two teens and a lot on my plate. Thank for the pep talk :)

  4. 1) Be gentle with yourself.

    2) You are valuable because you exist. Not because of what you do or what you have done – but simply because you are.

    3) The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain. It WILL stop at some point.

    4) And finally, a favorite truth from Rumi: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

  5. I really liked this Jennie–thanks for sharing. Change that is good and right can still be so hard, and in the excitement of the new it is easy to expect too much. I really liked the first point and the fifth point–my patriarchal blessing warns/guides me at least two different times that I have a soft voice and an indirect manner, and I have found that when I try to act differently or speak more ‘loudly’ it generally goes badly. Learning to act with your true, authentic self is so hard sometimes.

  6. I’m glad I’m not the only one! Not that I want all of us to be in fits of anxiety, but your words definitely inspire and uplift.

    Jennifer and Sharon – I’m glad some ideas resonated. Now it may sound wise, but the action part is where the true test comes:). Practicing my preaching. Little by little. Mormon culture vs doctrine (especially in Utah) can be hard to delineate but I think in doing so, the church feels much more freeing.

    Jen I want to reach out and hug you! You can do this. Much greater happiness awaits on the other side. You are strong. Breathe.

    Blue – once again you speak to my heart. I love the quote and am writing it down right now! And I’m going to let it rain.

    Jessie- I know you are one busy woman with a lot on your plate. Glad some of the thoughts correlated to your personal blessing. I liked your take on acting on our true authentic self. It is hard, but like you said, is more beneficial.

  7. Thank you for the reminders… I’m beginning homeschooling a anxiety ridden, dysgraphic preteen and…it is so daunting a prospect. I am terrified of her being un-educated…but then, that was what was happening at school, where our (I should mention usually awesome district and schools) were struggling with her constant healthcare issues and medical adventures, not to mention random dyslexia based problems cropping up, bullying, etc. It was worrying enough, but now I’m worried about being good enough. I have to remember my life growing up and how much of it was family and self educated, because of the way we learned in and out of school. I have to remember, most especially that I am NOT a circus performer. Therefore, some of our classwork this week will include home ec, and that includes putting up the pear butter simmering on the counter, something most families would love their kids to learn at school, and sewing, which quiets her mind (and mine.). I should mention my early morning pear butter has been in a crockpot all night, because I’m a lazy canner. Didn’t want anyone to think I woke up before school to make pear butter! I was, instead, too sleepy last night to seal it before bed, so I pretended that simmering on low all night would enhance the flavor. I think it did, and I know the added sleep enhanced my capability to enjoy the flavor of the day!

  8. Thank you! Here are two of the reminders to myself that Heavenly Father tells me often. You would think I would have them figured out by now for how often her reminds me. Still they soothe my tired and aching heart every time.

    “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.
    Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
    And ye shall seek me, and find me, and when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
    And I will be found of you, saith the Lord.”
    Jeremiah 29:11-14

    The second is these two simple words. “Be still.”

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