This Post Grad Life: Great Expectations Lead to Great Disappointment

To be honest, I don’t remember much from reading Charles Dickens’ book Great Expectations when I was in seventh grade, but I do remember being extremely scared. Seriously, that book gave me nightmares.  Was there a cemetery in the plot? Did someone abduct somebody? Did it even have anything to do with having ‘expectations?’ Or was that just a clever title twist in a book full of freaky shiz?  (Sidenote: Wow, I didn’t learn anything in seventh grade. How did I even get to college in the first place? Whatever, I’m going somewhere with this, I swear.)
Regardless of my lack of 7th grade education, this book landed softly in my mind recently and I got to thinking about expectations. In my life, I have an expectation timeline that goes a little something like this: With any given situation, my expectations are minimal during the beginning.  Once the situation hits halfway, my expectations usually skyrocket.  Take a relationship for example.  When I start talking to a guy I’m interested in I don’t expect a lot; I have fun, play carefree, play coy.  But once he starts to impress me and things progress, my expectations hit levels people could be offended by.  Suddenly, I’m waiting on him to kiss my feet and feed me mini chocolate chips and peanut butter with a baby spoon (What? Only my fantasy?) And the same story is true for all aspects of my life.
Except, since graduating college, my personal expectations have turned backwards. That’s right – as a post-grad, I expect too much out of every beginning.  I squeeze the shiz out of the orange before I can have a taste.  It’s awful.  I used to gain expectations through experience and now I have a ton of expectations before the experience.  Result:  I’m always disappointed.
First, it was relationships. As opposed to being carefree, I immediately place a label on whatever is going on with a guy.  We start hanging out, and I stamp a “booty call” or “relationship material” label right on his chest with my mind stamp.  If he doesn’t step up to my plate and perform the way I want him to, I become distraught and frustrated that I don’t have control of the situation.  And what happens? I go on a downward spiral before I can properly figure out if it’s even worth it.
The same thing happens with jobs. I waltzed out of college and immediately decided I couldn’t settle for anything less than I (felt I) deserved, instead of understanding the idea of “stepping stones to get there.”  My high expectations for myself made me actually believe I could jump across a twenty foot cliff to get my dream job.  And let me tell you, a twenty foot leap is way more difficult without a bridge.
My post-grad great expectations on crack affected my relationships with my friends as well. Not only did I immediately trust every person I met and expect them all to be my BFFAE, but I expected all of my college friends to cater to my needs and try hard (if not harder than me) to spend time with me.  Great expectations made me a stubborn, overly selfish and greedy human…who was constantly let down and angry with someone.
My high expectations for myself and others continues to stress me out constantly.  While I believe I should never expect anything less than the best for myself and my future, I need to lower my expectations so I’m flexible, eager to learn and easier on myself.  Great expectations up front destroy my ego and prevent me from moving forward.  I completely rule out perfect opportunities for diverse relationships (friends or boyfriends) and job opportunities that can eventually aid in assisting me to the fancy job and life I’ve always wanted.
I need to be careful with expectations.  It’s a fine balance between having too many and becoming disappointed, or having too little and not respecting myself by expecting (and believing) I deserve the best.  I think the magic trick is to be careful in making personal promises.  I’m going to approach any situation with an open mind, over-deliver and remain level-headed.
Remember, I’m not saying lowering personal expectations is the answer.  It’s ironing them out so we can be realistic and not let high hopes get in the way.  As post-grads, we truly deserve what we work hard for.  But we have to work hard for them. Results, both personal and professional, take time and effort. Dream jobs and perfect boyfriends don’t just show up on our doorsteps.

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