I see it everyday in military life. Disappointment from expectations that miss the mark. People build things up in their mind and are disappointed when what they have envisioned doesn’t actually occur. We plan for the perfect deployment homecoming only to wait for hours in a staging area running after impatient kids. We spend weeks coordinating the perfect special event only to spend it without our service member. And often our expectations fall short of the reality that is our life.
I remember years ago hearing my mother say to my father “Jack, don’t build it up in your mind”. It was as if she knew that he would be disappointed when his expectations didn’t turn out just as he had hoped. My father always wanted the bigger events and moments with us kids to be a “once in a lifetime”. He would contemplate the reactions we would have and anticipate that every experience would “create amazing memories” which we would talk about for years to come. And when his expectations were different from the reality he felt like disappointed.
I didn’t get it then, but I can see it clearly now in the many folds of my life. Friends, family, clients, military and civilian alike all falling into the trap of having to out do and create bigger and bigger events or it isn’t fun, worthwhile or important. They want to top the last vacation, holiday, date, homecoming, celebration, even the last relationship. And because it’s never big enough we feel as though we fall short. We create expectations that are far from realistic and therefore we lose something very important.
When we constantly try to “Go Big Or Go Home”, we lose the value of “being in the moment”. We lose the importance of building relationships that have true meaning by experiencing life together. Some of the most connective moments that I have ever had are the moments that are quiet, spontaneous and hold no expectations. It is then that I am able to experience life in its entirety.
Don’t get me wrong, I love (and need) fun and excitement sometimes. I also know that life doesn’t have to be big or perfectly designed in order to “create memories”. In striving to create a picture perfect, or Facebook perfect life, we can lose out on some of the best moments. Expectations are fine when they don’t replace spontaneity.
So stop expecting and start living!
~Judy Davis, the Direction Diva is a motivational speaker, author and lifestyle blogger as well as a military life and teen suicide prevention expert. Co-founder of DASIUM, Judy’s books Right Side Up and Warning Signs: Is Your Teen at Riskare go to resources for families and her websites are filled with tips, inspiration and resources for those looking for direction. Connect with Judy at TheDirectionDiva.com