Expectations

We all have them. Whether we expect to get a good grade or we expect to lose 10 pounds, we all have our own version of how we think things should turn out, both for ourselves and for others.

All of my life, I expected to earn good grades.  I expected to graduate from high school and get into a great college. I expected to throw myself into my studies, get internships, and be the most driven person the world has ever seen.

So, last year when I got to MSU, I was convinced I was finally on my way to the top. I applied for an office position here on campus because I needed the money and saw a great opportunity to get to know distinguished faculty members. For reasons lost to me now, I fully expected to get it. I didn’t. Conversely, during high school, I applied for a scholarship. For reasons that were very logical to me then, I did not expect to get it. I did.

What these two instances taught me is that, funnily enough, I’m not the only one who has expectations.  Employers expect potential employees to have certain qualities. Scholarship foundations expect students to submit a polished application. Parents expect kids to get good grades. Michigan State University expects students to pay their tuition bills. Professors expect students to complete the assignments on time. Heck, followers expect bloggers to publish posts on a fairly regular basis.

Those are all reasonable expectations. The expectations my family has for me are a sign of pride and love, a sign that they believe I can succeed and that they won’t accept anything less. The expectations my professors have are a sign that they think I’m competent enough to complete the task they assign. Your expectation as a reader is a sign of loyalty and a reassurance that I am publishing these posts for a reason, that these posts must mean something to someone somewhere.

However – come on, you had to know there was a catch somewhere – the problem with these expectations is that they often happen simultaneously. My parents don’t stop expecting me to try my best when I’m feeling overwhelmed. My professors don’t stop expecting me to turn in my homework when I’m sick. Expectations go hand-in-hand with pressure – a lot of pressure to fulfill (or, sometimes, prove wrong) those expectations.

For those of you who don’t know me, I am (for the most part) a people-pleaser. I don’t like to disappoint people, I don’t particularly like conflict and I’m not likely to purposely begin a feud of any kind, unless it’s something that I hold deeply ingrained opinions on. As a result, I feel a lot of pressure sometimes to make sure I not only succeed but surpass others’ expectations for me. Why? I honestly have no idea, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am always striving to do my absolute best. A personality trait, I might add, that makes me a little crazy at times. When a multitude of different people are all shouting their expectations at you, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

And because of that, I think it’s important to note that expectations are just that: something you expect. They aren’t things that are set in stone, things that are ordained from above that are guaranteed to happen. Expectations are just what we think will or should happen. For better or for worse, expectations, your own or those of others, can be wrong. It is seriously improbable for any one individual person to fulfill every single expectation they set for themselves and every single expectation that someone else set for them.

Because of this, you might as well relax at little bit. Don’t let others’ expectations define your life, and don’t take your own expectations as a fact set down by God. He knows what He’s up to, what the future will bring; you don’t. Just be content knowing you did your best, and all will turn out okay.

In closing, here’s a change in perspective that brings out the positive side of all this talk about expectations: they push us to do our best where we might not otherwise.

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