I remember quite clearly a conversation I had with a friend closing in on four years ago now. I don’t remember exactly what was going on, I know that I was trying to maintain a calm while actually being rather upset. She made a comment to the effect that I was handling whatever blow had fallen that day quite well. And I told her, Life is all about managing expectations. If you can do that, if you can keep your dreams, hopes, and ideals from getting in the way, then you can enjoy life no matter what it throws at you. I’m better at that some days than others, but it’s something I still try.
Now, I’m not saying to not dream. I’m not saying to not hope. I’m saying that you have to be flexible enough in those to allow them to mesh with the reality that is life. If you have a rigid expectation of what something, anything, is supposed to be like, then if when it comes and it doesn’t match up, you will be disappointed. And sometimes that disappointment can cost you the appreciation and joy of the moment that did occur. All because it didn’t happen the way you wanted, dreamed, and hoped.
Take, for example, getting engaged and married. It is the rare girl who doesn’t dream of it. Who doesn’t have an idea of how she’d like to have the question popped, of the type of ring she’d like, and certainly of the big bash that will be her wedding day. I was no different than most girls. I had my hopes and dreams for how it would all happen.
We would be at a sporting event of some kind. Cliche? Most definitely. But fitting to my sports loving? Absolutely. It wouldn’t even have to be on the kiss cam or up on the screen, it could just be a private moment between us, while surrounded by thousands of other sports fans. Ha. He would tell me all about how much he loved me, get down on one knee, hold up the ring and ask me to be his wife. I would say yes, cry tears of joy, and we’d live happily ever after.
Insert the sound of the record screeching to a halt here. I knew this would never happen once I fell in love with B. He told me early on that he knew nothing about jewelry and that I would be responsible for picking out my own ring. That was fine by me. Our actual engagement happened on a Saturday. He’d been at work that day and we were curled up in bed chatting. He mentioned (for the second time that week) how happy he was to have me living with him, how well he felt we were meshing as a no-longer-long-distance couple. And he asked me to marry him. And I said yes. We were beyond thrilled and excited and it was perfect. All because I was able to let that just be our moment. I didn’t try to force it to be something else. I was able to manage my expectations and dreams to allow for the reality of life. As to my proposal story? I wouldn’t have it any other way, it fits us both so well. And we were able to have that entire evening to ourselves as a newly engaged couple, something that wouldn’t have been possible in my dream.
My issue is not in adjusting for the big things. Our wedding was not as I had pictured as a child, but I’m okay with that too. Like I said, the big things don’t seem to give me any pause. For me, it’s managing expectations in little things. Like, B saying he’ll be home at x time and then not showing up or calling me to let me know what’s going on. Especially when it’s a day he’s not even supposed to be working at all and where I have a busy afternoon planned. That derails me more than the big things. Or, another example, the cruise we’re supposed to go on this summer. It took forever (two month) to settle on a cruise and date and now that’s off due to work conflicts on the part of my in-laws. So we have to regather and reattempt to find a month, date, and cruise that will work for all of us.
I’m not sure what to say about these minor issues or why they mess with my calm so much. I know that I need to learn to balance my expectations for these small, little day to day experiences just as I do for the larger, life changing ones. Or maybe, I just need a massage.
Do you find yourself able to go with the flow? Or do you have rigid expectations of how things should be?