“What a hard thing it is to be human. ”
The acrid smell of burnt popcorn wafted through our apartment last night. A good idea gone bad, something enjoyable snuffed out as quickly as you can snap your fingers. And I was left smelling like smoke wondering which emotion (the high-high or the low-low) was real. I think I knew full well, even in the moment; once again, I’d succumbed to unmet expectations.
So I ate handfuls of a fresh bag of popcorn. Tried to swallow my pride along with the puffed kernels, thoughts racing ahead.
Ex·pec·ta·tion | ekspekˈtāSH(ə)n/ | Noun
Synonyms: supposition, assumption, presumption, conjecture, surmise, calculation, prediction, hope
A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
“Reality had not lived up to expectations”
A belief that someone will or should achieve something.
Well, there you have it. A strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future. A belief that someone will or should achieve something in the future. I guess that’s one reason I’ve never doubted God or “lost” my faith. My expectations are decided; my aim is true. In that case, I know I have no cause to ever, ever doubt.
Expectations are the antagonist for every relationship I’ve ever had, every argument I’ve ever fought. I’m too darn sure of everything. Expectations are set in my own mind before they leave my mouth, and at that point, it’s usually too late.
It’s a dumb word, really… and it’s been chasing me around for years. Tailing me better than any policeman could, turning up at every inconvenient juncture. I like to be right, but who doesn’t? I hate to wrestle with the unknown (and hate to be wrong) but again, who doesn’t? And yet, the expectations I set for myself, for other people, for situations… they’re unrealistic. They’re the reasons my days occasionally backslide from excellent to miserable.
Here’s what I know: Really good intentions don’t guarantee a certain outcome. In fact, they can quickly wander into resentment. What I do, I have to do without expectations. In the words of Annie. F. Downs (see here and here), the things that make me most upset are my unmet expectations. The broken relationship, the disappointing situation, that all makes sense, ultimately. It’s my sterile, colorless expectations that produce the most frustration.
I’m finally realizing that I interpret everything according to what I expect. That drives me to make decisions that don’t align with who I am, set goals that aren’t realistic. I can’t be “in control and in love.” Not with a person or my own life, and certainly not with God.
That’s the heart of it, right? I want to stay in control because I’m afraid to let go. But I can let go and still be okay. I’m financially secure, surrounded by beautiful people and a strong family. I just can’t have all my ducks in a row. Instead, I need to look at my life with compassion. Look at myself with compassion. Look at this moment with compassion. And accept the fact that I’m absolutely human.
Does this resonate with you? Listen to Annie’s conversation with Ally to inject your soul with hope.