Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I have very high expectations – of myself, of others, of the world, of processes, of nature. It’s been mentioned by one very important person that my expectations are just too high. Of course, I don’t think so. In fact, I usually think that other people’s expectations are just too low and that’s why we live in a society that allows and supports mediocrity.

As a couple and family, we’ve been struggling through some tough times. In the ten free minutes per day that I have to actually think and reflect, I’ve been trying to come to terms with myself. It’s hard. I don’t like to re-think myself. I don’t like to change because I’m perfect, right? (As if.)

So, a while ago, I bought a book at a rummage sale. I intended to just skim through it. I opened it up randomly to page 94, and the first sentence that I read was “There are two kinds of expectations. Expectations may be realistic or unrealistic. Clinging to unrealistic expectations is the cause of suffering.”

Why, though, are they unrealistic? And, why does it bother me so much? And, yes – they do cause much suffering in my life. That part is correct. But, how do you just let them go, or alter them? Why should I have to alter them? I think that’s bogus.

It’s not like I’m setting goals that are completely ludicrous. I don’t expect myself to look like a super model. I don’t expect that I’ll suddenly start running as fast as Paula Radcliffe. I don’t expect Bub to get a six-figure job. I don’t expect the republican controlled state of Utah to support abortion.

But, I do expect that I will lose weight. I’ve been saying that for years. So far, it really hasn’t worked all that well. I’m 20 pounds lighter than my heaviest weight. While I’ve never gained the entire 20 back (except during pregnancy, but that doesn’t count, and I never went over my heaviest anyway), I frequently gain and lose 10 pounds over and over. My goal weight is still 35 pounds lighter than what I am right now. And, it’s totally possible. And, it would make me so much faster/flexible/energetic. I know all of this, but I’m still struggling. Why can’t I just lose it already? Why do I say to myself every stinking Wednesday “I hate being the fattest one in yoga class”? Why do I disregard all of the good work that I do during the day only to blow it in t evening? Why do I eat more and more after I have lost a couple of pounds? It’s like I want to gain it back (but I don’t want to!). See, I don’t think that this is a ridiculous goal. I just think that I’m not working hard enough.

But, I do expect that my running times should improve. I’ve been running for 12 years now. My pace has only improved by 2 minutes/mile. I should be 5 minutes faster than I was when I started. Not unrealistic. I just haven’t worked hard enough. I don’t do speed work consistently. I haven’t lost the weight. I ditch my planned runs when it’s too hot or inconvenient or because I want to sleep.

I do believe that Bub will get a job. It doesn’t have to pay a ton of money, but something would be good. Don’t get me wrong – it has been good to have her home (that’s another post for another time), but we’re drowning. She has the same skills that a thousand other unemployed people have, so she’s just another face applying for whatever job. But, I hear all of this talk about the economy turning around, so I expect more. I sometimes feel like she isn’t trying hard enough.

And the state of Utah? Lots of things are NEVER going to happen here. But, some general decency towards each other would sure be nice. Will gay marriage happen? Yes, some day. Will tolerance and acceptance prevail? Maybe. Until then, it would be nice to just have a smidgen of respect. And, there stands the old phrase “respect must be earned.” Maybe I (we) am not working hard enough to educate people.

So, this clearly comes down to the fact that I don’t work hard. But, I do! I work my ass off every day. OK – I’ll admit – Friday is usually my day to just do nothing after putting in 40 hours at the office, but other than that, I feel like I AM working! I have a full-time job. I run. I tend to the garden and the yard work. I take care of the dogs. I help with the housework. I make sure that our reading and exercise time gets done. And, that’s in the two hours that I have between dinner and bed! I work hard, but my expectations are still so high that I’m suffering because I’m not meeting them.

But, where did this notion come from, anyway? My mom was the hardest working person I’ve ever met in my entire life, and she seemed to have it all. Obviously, this is where it comes from. I’m sure that if she were here, she would set me straight. She did NOT have it all. She struggled financially, and physically, and (probably) mentally and emotionally. But, I don’t remember her wishing for the next thing; I don’t remember her beating herself up because she didn’t reach a certain goal. She made the most of her life – as shitty as it sometimes was. Am I just wishing life away? Am I missing something?

Or, am I just being honest with myself? It’s obvious that I’m not losing weight because of my eating habits in the evening and because I don’t run six times/week. I’m not as politically active as I could be.
I maintain that I’m just not working hard enough. Therefore, the expectations are realistic, but my effort is half-assed. The suffering (aka beating myself up), then, is justified.

Am I just screwed?


Jolene said...

I think high expectations are a must in our society. One could spend all day defining what those expectations should be and how high is too high. However, I also think we need to be fair. Is what you're expecting of someone else, or even yourself, fair? Is it in balance with every other demand that is being placed on them? Is it within their control or are there outside influencers that will thwart even the best attempts? Is it challenging them to reach a little further, but not so far that it's not doable? Maybe it would help to ask yourself if you're being fair. If you can't answer yes, that's a good guide to adjust your expectations so no one is disappointed.

Jolene said...

BTW - I love reading your posts. Thanks for letting me stalk you. ;)

joehorrocks said...

Dear friend -
Get off it! You ARE amazing. You DO everything above and beyond. QUIT making the rest of us feel like crap because our expectations aren't as high as yours. You ARE super woman. You DO as much as three active, successful people. START looking at the bright side of everything you do. START being happy with life and how good you have it and how GREAT you are!