The Dangers of Expectations

I have found through years and years of dealing with an unrelenting sense that things are not quite as good as they should be, that my expectations are just way too out of control. I have noticed that I have these unreachable expectations for what I should be like, what I should have achieved by my age, and what life should be like that nothing is ever good enough.

I am looking at others to measure how I am doing. If I meet a 23 year old that is doing “better” than me, I immediately begin this deep examination process trying to figure out where I am falling short. Why am I not doing that well? What’s wrong with me? I begin to attack myself bringing out all of my shortcomings, missed opportunities, miss steps, and what not.

I’ll literally spend the rest of the day thinking of all of the things I have not done. Never mind taking into account all the good things I have done, of course not. It’s much easier to pick at all the things I have failed to do. My mind is automatically drawn to that. 

I am always finding new things that I am not doing well enough on top of all the old issues I have had for sometime now. Body issues being the longest standing and most problematic one. But aside from that, I am also not as assertive as I should be, I am definitely not as self-confident as I should be, and I am not as happy as I should be, to name a few other expectations. I know having goals is healthy, but I am beginning to see that I have been confusing goals with unreachable expectations.

I have gathered these expectations by comparing myself with others, by what others tell me is admirable in a person, and unfortunately by what I see on TV and in movies. I have to admit the last one but it’s true. I get carried away watching movies and thinking that life should be like the movies but it’s not. Here is a perfect example of a dumb expectation that is stopping me from opening my eyes and enjoying and appreciating what is going on in my life.

I guess sometimes stepping back and allowing things to be as they are, will give you back the clarity of mind and strength needed to do the right thing. When spending most of the time criticizing ourselves for not being this or that, we are not helping the situation. We are not bringing ourselves any closer to reaching our goals. We are just giving the “problem” more power over us. Not to mention the fact that days are spent depressed and lost in thought trying to fix what is not broken.

My expectations have been suppressing me. They are sucking the life out of me. They are just too many and too high. If I ever want to find peace within myself and enjoy my life I know that I need to let go of all of the expectations I have collected through years and toss them. They serve no other purpose than to hurt me.

This realization was brought to my attention couple of nights ago when feeling particularly down about how things have not been working out exactly how I thought they should be. I decided to do something I never do, I opened up to my mother about it. She lovingly listened to me and I could tell that she was surprised about how critical I am with myself. She knew I was dealing with anxiety but she did not know that a lot of what has been causing the anxiety has been my perfectionist tendencies.

After I finished pouring out all of my deepest secrets of my insecurities and shortcomings she told me something that left me speechless. She told me that I was fine exactly how I am now. She told me that the end result of this exceptional person I am looking to become is here and now. I cannot explain how much this got to me. To think that what I have been chasing after all this years has just been an illusion I have made up turned my world upside down for a while. I am still taking it in because that goes directly against my perfectionist way of thinking. But I am starting to think she is right.

Why not choose to see myself as being fine now? I know that by giving into expectations and perfectionist thinking I will never reach a point were I am happy with myself. I am setting myself up to be forever disappointed by life and myself. So I have decided to put in an effort to rebel against that voice in head that is never satisfied with what I do. Repeat to it that I am fine just the way I am at the moment. I wont blindly believe what that critical voice is telling  me anymore.

I know this is getting a bit too long so I will conclude with the same words my mom concluded our conversation, that left me lots to think about. She told me, “ I want to you to go out there and mess up. We were not put on this earth to be perfect, whoever told you that? We are here to be human and that’s all, please I want to see you go out there and mess up already.”

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One thought on “The Dangers of Expectations

  1. Ah, yes, I know this issue all too well. It’s hard (for me) to find the balance between a healthy desire for self-improvement, and an overly self-critical dissatisfaction with wherever I am at the moment. I’ve gotten a little better about it, but it’s still tough. Your mom’s right, of course, as moms often are 🙂

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