Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” So, let’s examine it together. In Etymology, I’ll be presenting a word each week with its generally accepted definition and riffing on this word as a way to get us to talk about life together. This is meant to be a discussion based article, with emphasis on “together.” In one sense, these articles will be written and complete when they are published, but they will not be whole without your input. All of us could use better words to describe our lives. So, let’s go through life together in words. Helping each other and improving together and always remembering to breathe.
By Brianne Leith
Expectation is a curious concept to me. It is a word that is flawed through uncertainty. It is a belief that revolves around the future. The problem with expectation is that it needs to be realistic when you place it on any situation or any human being, but commonly is unacceptably high. Without a realistic stand point, expectation becomes debilitating and a detrimental aspect of the human condition.
Realism has never been a strong characteristic in my mind or life. Expectation becomes a rising exaggeration of the uncertain and is riddled with downfalls.
Expectation is defined as, “1. anticipation of something happening: a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen 2. notion of something: a mental image of something expected, often compared to its reality. 3. expected standard: a standard of conduct or performance expected by or of somebody. 4. prospects for future: somebody’s likely prospects of wealth or success in the future, especially of inheriting money under somebody’s will.”
The definitions though closely related throughout each version, has slight and interestingly significant differentiations that illuminate a new understanding. The “expected standard” for people with the “prospects of wealth or success,” turns expectation into the debilitating expectation. We place shallow hopes onto people and ourselves, that we need to be rich, successful and beautiful as a standard. If we are not, we are a disappointment.
I wonder if this expectation of wealth and all of our expectations have changed since the Economy has changed. Has the Recession changed our expectations of ourselves and our future? Have the standards of years earlier, that we were boxed in by, still prevalent in our present situation?
Growing up and even to this day my parents never placed unrealistic expectations on me. They never told me I had to get perfect grades. They never pushed me into activities that I did not want to pursue. They encouraged me, and knew I had to live my own life; they would proud me if I was not living up to my full potential, but always made me feel that no matter how badly I messed up, I had their support.
I was the one who pushed myself to excess at times. I succeeded and I failed. I had to be better or in revenge of not being the best, I had to be the worst. I placed myself into situations where I would inevitably fail, and upset myself. I did this to myself and made expectation into a concept that was not propelling and beneficial, only discouraging and harmful to my psyche and potential.
We all think we’re going to be great and we feel a little bit robbed when our expectations aren’t met. But sometimes expectations sell us short. Sometimes the expected simply pales in comparison to the unexpected. You got to wonder why we cling to our expectations, because the expected is just what keeps us steady. Standing. Still, the expected is just the beginning, the unexpected is what changes our lives.
Expectations will be the end of you. Exceed them.
“Nobody succeeds beyond his or her wildest expectations unless he or she begins with some wild expectations.” Ralph Charell
“The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.” Eli Khamarov