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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Easter and Editing

This weekend, I’m going to read over the edits and send “The Devil Within” back to my editor. I must have told myself this about a thousand times as I watched the clock tick by. I didn’t literally or figuratively watch the clock. I mostly spent time with my family, because it was Easter weekend.

I am not religious, but I was raised in the church. Everyone in the south seems to be.  When Christmas and Easter come around, it’s a big deal. We had egg hunts galore, including one for my daughter’s daycare where the organizer brought an ice cream truck. Boy, that was popular! We know have candy pouring out of our ears–the dentist will be happy to see us coming soon. And we spent time with our family.

The thing is, my edits are done, but I really want to read through one more time and make sure no more changes need to be made. I’m also a hater of conflict, and there are several suggestions my editor made that I don’t agree with. I’m done procrastinating TODAY. I keep telling myself just to finish the darn editing. After all, the sooner it’s finished the sooner I can move on with edits on my other works.

Having your work edited is so hard mentally. Being a writer means you’re a creator of sorts. You create a world for your characters to live in, and when someone shoots that all down or doesn’t understand where you’re coming from. It can be quite hard to accept. It’s all part of being a writer though. Whoever said writing was easy? No one ever.

I’m glad I put editing on the back burner this weekend though, because I was able to spend a lot of quality time with my three growing kids. One day, they’re not going to want to wake up at the crack of dawn to see what the Easter bunny left. One day, Easter egg hunts are going to be things of the past. Until then, I need to enjoy these little moments.  I’ll leave you with this little gem from the weekend. I usually try to keep my personal and writing blog separate, but this photo of my middle boy is just priceless.  Happy Belated Easter!

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