Expectations v. Reality. It’s something that everyone has experienced at one point another, regardless of who you are.
Take this first date of mine as an example: I had this one guy, a very long time ago, ask me out on a date. Obviously, I agreed to go, or I wouldn’t have a story. He was charming, attractive, engaging and enjoyable to be around and I was genuinely interested in him. So I did the date thing. He picked me up from my house and we set out on this adventure that he had planned, but didn’t clue me in as to what we were doing, or where we were going. It turned out to be a pretty thoughtful date! We went to Fernbank, then to eat dinner at Ray’s, followed up by walking around Piedmont Park. It was – quite simply – sweet. My expectations going into that date would be that I would have a great time with this guy, and over all, it was what I got. Then reality sat in. As the evening was coming to an end he asked if I wanted to go back to his house. I wasn’t comfortable with that quite yet and when I replied “no” he became super angry. He clammed up and didn’t speak to me the whole way to my house. When he dropped me off I was hardly able to say two words to him as he was backing down the driveway with the passenger door still open. It was like that scene from the Will Smith movie, Hitched, when she said, “I’ve never seen anyone get dressed so fast”, except it was, “I’d never seen anyone want to get away so fast.”
Turns out that the very next day a few mutual friends came up to me saying that he was pissed that I didn’t “put out”. They explained that he was upset that he “went through all that trouble” and the “thoughtfulness of the evening” that he thought he deserved something in the end. This was not my expectation. The reality of him being a super douche came screeching in like a drunk celebrity driver behind the wheel of a Lamborghini. It was an eye opener, at the balmy age of 17, that some people operate under facades to get what they want. I never spoke to him again.
Furthermore, have you ever had a friend that you felt was only your friend when convenient to them? I’ve experienced this lately. I thought that I had a friend, but it turned out that she was only there when she wanted to be, and not when I needed her. The reality started setting in that I was only a convenience and not an actual friend. I’ve not talked to her much. I hope I’m never like this. Someone once told me that the best of friends are those who you could call at 3am and say “meet me at the corner of this street and this street with $500” and they never ask why – they just show up. I have a few of those!
I’ve had an interesting run in with reality lately. My expectations was that this summer would be amazing; that I would be stress free because I’d have freedom, I’d be divorced and I’d be one step closer to living on my own. The reality of life has undoubtedly set in – I was blasted with having to replace both the furnace and the air conditioning unit the house that I own, which was $3100 out of my savings. I ended up having to pay for more of the divorce than originally anticipated because of ridiculous, stupid, illogical reasoning by the ex (though, my lawyer is a friend and cut me a huge deal, thankfully). The original place I wanted to move to off the Marietta Square turned out to be ridiculous and the two places I wanted to move into were leased out from underneath me. They tried to put me in a shoe box. I was cut from two teams. Woe-is-me. Then my scholarship was revoked. I ended up having to take on a lot more responsibility this summer than I ever anticipated and it ended up creating a vortex of madness that I had to then figure out how to cope with. Sometimes I suck at coping. Actually, I’m absolutely terrible at it.
That’s not to say that some good things haven’t happened this summer – because, I can say that there are some amazing things this summer that happened that have made me so undoubtedly happy. I’ve made some great friendships and become closer with friends that I never thought possible. Friends that I have spent hours on the phone trying to figure out how to handle situations of my life. People who surprise me by showing up at my apartment with smiles on their faces and open arms. I have people in my life now that I’m so grateful for and they were never expected. It’s so incredibly amazing what happens when I removed the expectations. When I was able to just act freely, and justly, and not force things to be how I needed them to be. It was almost as if saying “Let it Be” had all to do with the puzzle pieces falling gently into place.
Reality is a bitch; nothing ever really goes the way people plan. I lost a friend this summer off of his expectations not becoming a reality – in fact, just the opposite happened. The reality of his expectations were far different than he imagined. Thankfully, I think, we’ve managed to fix our friendship. I’m just starting to realize that living life off of expectations can lead to a hefty amount of disappointment. I don’t mean to say that I’m going to live my life from this point forward free of expectations or hope, because I feel that this is a faulty way of reconciling with the fact that my reality is far different than what I had expected. Rather, I’m going to try and not turn into an angry little gremlin when the reality hits me square between the eyes. I’ve got to learn to take things in stride, be the stronger person that everyone thinks that I am, and press forward in a positive light. Reality sucks – but it sucks more when you try and fight it.
“I believe that there is one story in the world, and only one. . . . Humans are caught—in their lives, in their thoughts, in their hungers and ambitions, in their avarice and cruelty, and in their kindness and generosity too—in a net of good and evil. . . . There is no other story. A man, after he has brushed off the dust and chips of his life, will have left only the hard, clean questions: Was it good or was it evil? Have I done well—or ill?”
— John Steinbeck (East of Eden)