Great Expectations

As a new week begins I find myself thinking a bit about expectations, both big and small. We all have them and many of us often find ourselves sorely disappointed when our expectations are not met. In the last few days I’ve come to realize that when it comes to expectations, mine are probably higher than most; I expect so much of others and of myself that often I am left disappointed.

When I was in ninth grade I had a teacher who pushed every single one of her students to excel in all aspects of their lives. Her honors class was one of the first classes that made me truly work for the grade that I wanted. The first few weeks of the school year brought with it low grades and even lower self-esteem. I remember sitting in her class thinking that it was going to be a horrible year if my grades continued to fall below the norm.

One day, however, after noticing that many of us were still “adjusting” to the rigors of her class, she told us something that I will never forget so long as I live. She said that in all her years of teaching she had learned one important thing: when we raise the bar for those around us, in almost all cases those around us will rise to meet that bar. Some may fall back and some may simply remain where they are, but most will rise.

Looking back I think that in that moment something inside of me changed. Instead of falling back I started reaching for some invisible bar in life, expecting more of myself and more of those around me. In many ways it became a driving force; something that began to define me and set me apart from others, but not in the way that one would expect.

Instead of becoming the ideal student, I developed a thirst for knowledge and a never-ending hunger for more out of life as a whole. I started setting standards for myself and standards for every other person in my life. For a while this was a good thing; my rise in expectations brought with it success and motivation for both myself and others. It forced me to evaluate friendships and opportunities more critically and to “cut the fat” in some instances. But it didn’t take long for me to see the downside of this as well. I started seeing the flaws in others more clearly than their merits.

I find myself at a point in life now, wondering if maybe my expectations are becoming less realistic and more idealistic, less attainable and more on the ridiculous side. I think in some ways I have developed a need for perfection; a need to reach some point where I can say that I am at the height of who I can be. I’m starting to question if this need to rise and meet some invisible bar is actually taking more from me than it is giving. This in turn makes me think about the bar itself and the decisions that come from where we set it.

When we set the bar low, we may be avoiding disappointment, but we may be shying away from possible success and opportunities as well. It also seems like we would be ignoring the potential within ourselves and others. Conversely, when we set the bar high, we may be setting it too high and ultimately setting ourselves up for failure. It also may be compelling us to make decisions based on our expectations rather than other factors that may be more important in the decision making process.

With expectations so high, it begins to seem like most people will never measure up and that nothing will ever be good enough. At what point do we say that the bar is too high or even too low? And how can we know which side is better? Furthermore is it right to have expectations that vary from one person to another?

These questions just keep bouncing around in my head and I’m left feeling unfulfilled with my own perspective on the answers. I’m left wondering how to find the happy medium that keeps me from expecting too much or too little from myself or those close to me. I’m left wondering if maybe my expectations are simply getting in the way of me living the life I want to live.

Well those are some of my thoughts for today. Take them or leave them. You decide. I am more than happy to hear some of yours as well. Until next time…stay classy.

–          C.M. Berry

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About C.M. Berry

I'm an aspiring author, blogger, and poet fluent in sarcasm, profanity, and dark humor. I have something to say about everything and whether you love me or hate me, you'll always come back for more.
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4 Responses to Great Expectations

  1. artloverjan says:

    Wonderfully said. And right on all occasions!

    I, too, have extremely high expectations and that is the problem. It should be a rule to never have expectations that go beyond the high bar or about that level. Then again, no one really should have low expectations, too. Like you said, it’s about finding a healthy balance. Although, that is really difficult to find once you are in too deep in hole.

    When you know is too high, is if everything you find is a complete and utter disappointment and you are left confused and don’t know how to stop the disappointments from coming. When it’s too low, of course you won’t be disappointment that much, but your also not living life to the fullest you can. So you are left unfulfilled and unsatisfied. High or Low is neither good but the bar in the middle of them is good enough. And it’s also good to have different expecations for different people. Not everyone is the same so you can never expect the same things from all of them.

    The obvious answer to finding that balance, I think, is to have both, maybe. Not have HIGH expectations but not LOW either. That could mean having a high expectation with a new job or new person and all the possiblities and opportunities it comes with it. …at the same time have a low expectation and be realistic and try not to care too much about it in case it doesn’t work out. So then, you just gotta move on and be positive. I think with more time and patience in life as you get older, it could become clearer and you maybe someday, like myself, will find a healthy medium. (Whenever that is)

    Like

    • C.M. Berry says:

      I think for many of us it takes a remarkably long time to strike a balance between the two. Luckily I’m gradually finding my way. Thanks for your input and I hope you come back to read more. =)

      Like

  2. Abra says:

    Extremely well written!

    I think every person struggles with the fight between the idealistic life that we know we’re capable of leading and the actuality of life where we exist amongst everyone else. Everyones ideals cannot be achieved at the same time…it’s impossible. The path to your ideal life and highest expectations cannot be met without the suppression of every person around you’s ideals. It’s science. You can’t have all protons within an atom and no electrons…the positive by far outweigh the negative and an atom can’t exist in that state. It needs to be neutral overall and that’s how the world exists. We’re a combination of positive and negative within ourselves and also amongst each other. We never reach our ideals, yet never stop reaching toward them either. We can never alter our position because we exist as harmoniously as possible with everyone else and are part of a higher equilibrium. We are always in the middle.

    So my thoughts are as follows.
    Get out there and live your life. Don’t do something because it’s expected…do it because YOU want to do it. Be confident in who you are. If things don’t turn out perfect, it’s okay. Enjoy the potholes and sidestreets….they give us character, wisdom, and experience. The path we follow is the best possible path that allows us to exist.
    With that being said, if we’re capable of enjoying the journey, than let us enjoy the journey, because whether we’re happy or sad, the outcome will always be the same. So if you want to be happy, be happy. Live your life to the fullest. No regrets.

    Like

    • C.M. Berry says:

      I meant to respond to this a while ago, but for some reason I never really got around to it. I just wanted to say thanks for your advice and for reading what I had to write. As always, you have solid insight and make more sense than most. Thanks again and I hope that everything is going well for you! =)

      Like

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