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NAS: Expectations vs. Reality

Have you ever had people in your life who have expectations of what your life is like, as a single person? Do friends or family ever make assumptions about your life simply because you're unmarried? Did you ever have expectations about being single which turned out to be different than the reality? How do you manage the expectations of others with the reality of your day-to-day?


Boy I have a LOT of thoughts on this ... hopefully they will be written coherently and not all over the place!

There are two questions here: Do I have expectations of what the single life is? AND Do others place expectations on me because I'm single? Although I think the prompt is really getting at the latter, the former is more of a big deal for me right now and has been on the last fifteen years of my life.

So I will get the easy one out of the way and then deal with the more difficult. Do other people have expectations of me? Yes, of course - I have them of others. Do they interfere with the relationships we have? No, not really. The one exception might be my family. My sister is always telling me to get on ChristianMingle.com and then all will be better - I'll magically meet a man, get married, have lots of kids, and be happy. Now she's not saying the specifically, but it's what I'm inferring when she tells me "this will be the year I buy you a subscription for Christmas." Now I'm here to say that although online dating can be successful for some it's only an avenue that God uses, not the avenue that God uses. I have a CatholicMatch subscription and it's not all that and a bag of chips if I'm being honest.

I think my mom also has an expectation of what my life is like - but more in that I'm dating all of these guys and am in long relationships that I'm not telling her about and that's completely wrong. Again, I just might be inferring her thoughts, but it's what I hear.

My friends are super supportive. Married friends with and without kids never take advantage of me for baby-sitting (I mean I watch their kids, but it's not too much - and honestly, I could stand to do it a little more). They are always great about having me over to hang out with them and their little ones. I love all of the super cute stories, drawings, and book readings that get to happen during those visits. Sometimes it's them who wants an afternoon, an hour away to just be with a friend. I don't mind being interrupted by little ones, but it's probably because I never am and only want that for the future.

So the harder question - what are my expectations for myself? Well, I read this book (well, part of a book) about twenty-somethings (which I'm not even one anymore!) and she said we need to prevent "Expectation Hangovers." I had to read the chapter about this to get a firmer grasp on it, but the gist is that we are disappointed more when we don't get what we thought we were going to get than if we just had realistic expectations and the experience was what we expected.

Make sense?

Example - when I turned 25 I had this quarter life crisis of sorts - I was so upset that my life wasn't what it I expected it to be. I thought I would be married, at least dating someone, have kids, love my job, have a stable living situation (ie: not seeking out roommates over and over again). I didn't have any of those things - no husband, no boyfriend, no kids, okay job, roommate after roommate (all terrible) and I had a super hard time turning 25. So I decided to change a few things - first being my expectations. So what did I do? Well, I set some other expectations - I couldn't control not expecting things, but I could change what I wanted to do. So I made a 25 things in the next 25 years list. I figured these were things I could accomplish before I turned 50. Most of them were things to do rather than things to be - although married with kids is on that list.

There are some other great things I've already done like: Be a High School Youth Minister, Run 1 mile, Attend Fr. Michael's Ordination, Go to Italy, Buy a Big Bed (ie: queen), Start a Blog...

I've done these - and about one per year since I wrote the list. I didn't set out to accomplish them, more like I did the thing and then months later I looked at the list and happily realized I did something and crossed it off!

This changing my expectations habit has helped in areas of work, personal relationships, and life in general. Not that they are low, but that they are realistic. Why set yourself up for failure when you know you'll just be disappointed? (I also do this with friends - you know, the ones who are late, a LOT - you know who you are!)

It's not settling, it's about being realistic. Realizing that my job is not my purpose in life. Marriage is not the goal of my existence. My purpose in life is to be a Saint and my goal is Heaven. When I have those two things set then I'm ready to take on the hundred other tasks that clutter my day!

Thanks to Jen for Hosting and Morgan for always being there! Next week the answer to the challenge (which I didn't write about, but have a super big announcement to share with y'all)!

Happy Holy Week! Happy Easter!

Comments

  1. I feel you on being discouraged that the way I wish my life was and reality don't match. It's so hard when you want something so badly and then it doesn't happen. In a way sometimes it's discouraging. I really like your ideas about changing things you have control over vs things you don't. I've been trying to do that a lot more lately...it's not always easy but it's a step in the right direction!

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    Replies
    1. Definitely difficult, but worth it to change the expectations!

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  2. I started reading Justin M. Campbell's blog specifically because he tells it like it is about being single. He got married well into his thirties, but he is very down-to-Earth about the reality of being single and unhappily so. I'm not linking because the title might be a little scandalous for your blog, but you can find it through Google.

    I had a quarter-life crisis, too. My life is not what (or where, geographically!) I expected it to be, but it's good for now. I think I'm partly unsettled because I want to be married and partly because, like you said, my goal is heaven. I won't be fully settled until I get there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing his blog - just looked into reading it - and it's excellent! Thanks for sharing!!

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