Saturday, October 9, 2010

If you expect the unexpected...

I get so frustrated when I hear people talk about expectations like they are a terrible, destructive thing.

Our entire social existence is built upon expectations.

Granted, if someone has unreasonable expectations, there we have something to discuss, and there is a fine line there.  But all expectations simply cannot be bad.  That's ridiculous.  I expect my roommate to not eat all the food in my cabinet (and she doesn't because she's awesome and she knows that some of it has probably been in there since we've moved in, and only I really know the difference).  I do not have the unreasonable expectation that my roommate will give me a deep tissue massage every night.  It would be crazy of me to get angry for her not fulfilling that expectation.  It would not be that crazy if I got angry about opening my cabinet and not seeing any food (which reminds me that I really do need to go to the grocery).

Also, it frustrates me that we're supposed to be able to talk about our expectations, when the vast majority of our expectations are built in to such a degree that we don't realize that we have them or that maybe they're unreasonable by someone else's standards until those expectations are not carried out.  I expected my poor, unsuspecting boyfriend to know that adding music to my well-crafted iPod without my permission would be SO against the rules, but because I expected that, I couldn't warn him that I would be super unhappy if he did so.  I didn't realize that he was going to do something so intrusive, and he didn't realize that I'd consider something so harmless as intrusive.

How was I supposed to know to forewarn him of that expectation if I didn't realize that he didn't have the same expectation?

In case you're wondering, that example is from many many moons ago.  We've overcome that obstacle.  And now he's afraid to touch my iPod.

So if I envision something in my head, and have done so forever, not realizing that there could be other ways of envisioning that thing, I am going to have a really hard time preparing someone else for any differences that I don't know exist.  But if that person is involved in that thing that's being considered (let's say a romantic relationship or a business deal), it could take a very long time for all of those differences to get worked out.  Especially considering the fact that those expectations won't be discovered until they are opposed by the other person's expectations.

In essence, I'm saying we're all screwed.

Not really.  That's not what I'm saying.  I'm just kidding, don't panic.  We just have to do the really hard thing where we reconsider our own expectations and ask ourselves honestly if we'd be open to changing them to something else in order to match the other person involved. 

If not, that's constantly going to be a rough spot unless the other person wants to change their expectations, which you should never expect (too much of that word yet?). 

But if you are willing to change what you didn't originally know you expected, congratulations.  You've reached a maturation milestone that not many people get to.  And I hope more people like you exist in the world.

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