Expect Less, Live More

When I went to Midwest Writer’s way back in July (it now feels like eons ago), someone said to make a name for yourself you have to blog. She/he (all the faces blurred together-sorry for vagueness) said readers like to hear from authors consistently, so set up a blog schedule and stick to it. Well, obviously I’ve fallen short in that category. I intend to blog three times each week, but sometimes things happen (like lice, or vacation, sick kids, sick me, anxiety-ridden can only sit on the couch and watch seventeen episodes in a row of How I Met Your Mother type days). But it got me thinking about expectations.

A few years back, I felt unhappy. And during that time, I found my love for writing again. I started writing for catharsis, to heal old wounds, and new. I wrote to rid myself of feelings I deemed wrong or inappropriate. I wrote to find solace from within myself. I wrote so I could function every day and not curl up into a ball and rock back and forth in a corner even though some days I wanted to. Back then, I held myself and everyone around me up to sky-high expectations. And it was a nightmare.

Unrealistic expectations of others only serves to further unhappiness in yourself. When one has expectations of other people that those people don’t meet, then one is stuck in a state of disappointment. How can you be happy when you’re constantly disappointed with others? Expectations become a little like mind-reading. Come on, we all say we’re not mind-readers, but the truth is many of us expect others to read our minds. Many of us expect others to fill the void within us. Many of us expect to achieve happiness from other people, instead of searching for it where it really exists: inside ourselves.

When I really thought about this—letting go of expectations—I thought it was ridiculous. I mean come on. My whole life, I’d been trying to live up to my parents’ expectations, to my bosses’ expectations, to my teachers’ expectations, and to my own unrealistic expectations of achieving perfection. I wanted my marriage and life to seem perfect, and in the end I had set unrealistic expectations for myself. When I realized this, I sank further into the dark pit of oblivion called depression. And I had to pull myself out, one layer at a time. I had to realize by letting go of expectations that I had what it took to make myself happy and to spread that joy around.

You see, having expectations for yourself is okay, as long as you don’t set the bar too high. I have goals and expectations for myself on a daily basis, but I’m not afraid of failure anymore. I know failure is an opportunity to learn.

It took me a while to learn that pegging your expectations on others, well, that doesn’t work. It destroys relationships. It destroys friendships. It destroys happiness. Now when I reach out to a friend, I do it because I want to. Sure, in a perfect world, it’d be nice for my friends to always reciprocate. But I know when they don’t, it’s because they got busy. I’m not catastrophizing about all the reasons they don’t like me. I’m done obsessing about where they disappeared to when they didn’t call. Because all these things—they’re crazy-making, not happy-making! If you really want to know whether someone is your friend or not, then be there for them, and see if they give back from the deepness of their hearts. Talk to them. Put the phone down and meet them for lunch. Tell them how you feel. Stop guessing and expecting other people to read your mind!

The only person in this life who can make you happy is you. Let go of your expectations for others. Give because you want to give, not because you want someone to give back. I promise, if you do this you’ll see the world differently and it might even make you happy. Hold yourself accountable for your own happiness.

Have you found happiness? Have you found ways to let go of your expectations? If you’re a writer, do you write for happiness?


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8 thoughts on “Expect Less, Live More

      • It truly does push people away. My in-laws do this to me when we visit them. Instead of asking me to do something for them or help them they just sit there and talk badly about me behind my back. I don’t talk to them anymore. Any dealing with them goes through my husband.
        I felt you really touched on a note about expectation as well. It so easy to set the bar to high. Having realistic expectations is really important, when come to not just writing but everything.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I struggle with unrealistic expectations in my writing, especially when it comes to drafting. I write out my drafts instead of typing them out. And even then, I’ll scratch out sentences that just don’t work. I have this expectation that the first draft should be the best draft. Maybe it was because of my upbringing. I felt like everything had to be done right the first time. I still struggle with that way of thinking.

    I am trying to let things go; to say to myself that it is okay to make mistakes in my writing. It’s still hard to type out my drafts, even when some people have said that they will look at my work and offer critiques on it.

    I strive for something that is unattainable. I’m working on ridding myself of that expectations and let me be me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s such a learning process. I’m editing my work right now, and I find myself writing ‘what were you thinking?’ next to a lot of sentences? I need to give myself grace, just like I give my kids. No one’s perfect, and a first draft is a just that…a draft. Letting go is hard to do, but so worth it because it has made me infinitely happier. Still–every day I have to consciously think about being kind to myself instead of being my own worst enemy.

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      • I think being consciously aware of what we’re doing is key. We can easily beat ourselves up without a second thought. It takes more time to build ourselves and one another up. But it is well worth it.

        I’m so hard on myself, which is probably why I write out my stories. Someone once told me that if you want to be creative, write longhand. If you want to have work critiqued, type them out. I want people to tell me what I’m doing right and what I need to improve.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Offer still stands! Send it on to me once you start typing. I’ll do the same of my WIP once I’m finished with this first major edit I’m working on–if you’re interested, of course!

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  2. Absolutely! You have to ask people for what you want, rather than expecting them to read your mind and give it to you. The answer can still be no when you ask, and that’s okay. But you’ve at least got to ask.

    Liked by 1 person

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