Those Danged Expectations


Is it a learned thing, a conditioning of sorts? How do we set ourselves up so well to be so …disappointed? Here I am with all the psychology education I could get my hands on and I’m still asking the same questions! Am I expecting a different answer from the textbooks and journals than what I usually find there? What a bother! Truth is, there are just some important things you’ll never find in a book.

Like, you turn the key in the ignition and the car starts. It’s not too much to expect, right? But when the car doesn’t start, the Plan B that was never expected to be needed and thus unthought of has to be created and put into action ASAP. That’s a major “un-oh” moment if there ever was one.

You can be careful to choose the gallon of milk with the longest code date of all the jugs on the shelf, and when you pour out a glass to enjoy with those fresh Oreos, you expect that milk to be drinkable. Don’t look now, but you need to get that soured, spit-out milk and cookie combo off your monitor and keyboard fast!

I take a few extra risks. I expect the clothes I buy to look as good on me when I get home as they did on the rack. I expect the deodorant I choose to actually keep my underarms dry and unsmelly. I expect the coffee maker to make coffee and the toaster to toast. Yes, those are risky expectations because I bought them both at Wal-Mart, and who knows where they came from. I also expect those generic prescription drugs to do what the name-brand, much more expensive drugs do. Yeah, that’s risky.

The psychology books say that all these expectations are part of your personality’s schema. Based on what you’ve learned in the past, you expect old things and new things to fit right into what has happened all along. When things don’t fit, they are either skipped over as irrelevant or they throw a huge wrench into things and cause a good stiff case of anxiety. We’re most comfortable when everything fits perfectly, and we’re out of whack when it doesn’t.

Let me puff out my chest a little bit to say I work hard at being open minded and know quite a few people that aren’t in comparison. Which, of course, is just another example of cheap expectation. Heh. But, I do work at it, and work at it hard. I do my best to limit, if not eliminate entirely, my expectations of others. So much would be missed if I didn’t, and I adore the unique individuality I find in everyone. As careful as I strive to be, to not set myself up for a hard fall, I slip every now and then and take a good belly-flopping splat onto the concrete.

Always the tough one for me, I expect a little bit more from the people who willingly exchange the words, “I love you” with me. Doesn’t that denote an extra-ordinary level of shared fondness and a larger than normal role in each other’s lives? Should I always be the one to reach out and call them? Shoot. It takes two to tango, doesn’t it? It certainly takes more than a bi-monthly phone call to actually play an inside role in my life!

I wouldn’t have made it through all the bumps, the nooks and crannies, the mountains and the mole hills without my friends. I love them all, and their unique idiosyncrasies and extremisms and eccentricities. I accept them unconditionally for who they are. I’m blown away when that unconditional acceptance isn’t returned. I should know better than to expect that, but I do anyway.

My hard work at staying open-minded has paid off though. I learn so much every day. I learn new things about stuff I’ve known forever all the time. I meet incredible people, hundreds of them, every week. Most of all, I keep pushing back the walls of comfort and learn and experience more and more constantly.

Oh, but there’s still a ways to go before I can confidently say that no one upsets my apple cart. Those generic prescriptions drugs had better work or I’ll be blogging from the nuthouse! Danged those expectations anyway!


  1. LOL - I can relate to the spoiled milk & cookies! Actually, I can relate to just about everything written here. Another great post Theresa!

  2. Thank you, Rebecca! I appreciate the pat on the back - because I don't expect them. :-D

  3. I was told many years ago, If you don't expect much then you'll never get much. I lowered my expectations many years ago to preserve my sanity. Thanks for all the encouragement you gave me Theresa about happiness, much appreciated.

  4. But does that saying apply to expecting from people, or from expecting from life itself?

    You're welcome Jude.

  5. Not sure, but I got tired of expecting so much out of life and expecting people to act and be the way I thought they should be that I just stopped expecting so I wouldn't keep getting hurt. Now it doesn't bother me so much when life doesn't happen the way I think it should or people aren't who I thought they were.

    I am so sorry about your little dog, God that's horrible, but you'll be surprised how that little guy will adapt and move around even on 3 legs. In a way I wish it had been one of my Shadow's leg instead of the blown disks in his back. I'm saying a prayer for you and the little guy.