Living in Reality instead of Your Expectations
A long time ago, in a mythical Greek world, there was a creator named Daedalus. He’s famous for a few things, but mainly for his son, Icarus. Daedalus and Icarus are thrown in jail and need a way to escape. To escape their prison, Daedalus decides to build his son and himself wings to fly away from their imprisonment. If you heard this tale before, then you know how that worked out. Daedalus gives Icarus his famous speech of “Don’t fly too low to the ocean but don’t fly too high towards the Sun because your wings will break.” Icarus promptly flies higher than he can handle, breaking his wings, and ultimately, dying in the process. Sometimes aiming for the stars isn’t the best idea.
We all have expectations and standards for ourselves, but we should learn to keep them under control. In this modern age, we’re constantly reminded of other people’s success. Social media is a constant reminder that there is always a bigger fish. It’s difficult not to compare your life to someone else when you’re bombarded with images of someone “living their best life.” Made even worse when you comparing yourself to celebrities. No matter how hard you try, you’re not always going to be the best.
Standards are Good, Limitations are Bad
Standards are a baseline expectation of what we expect for ourselves. These are always good to have as it gives you personal guidelines for what you deserve from yourself. For example, in relationships we expect our partners to treat you with respect and to have good manners. Some other examples: expect to do at least 30 minutes in the gym, maintaining a clean house or making good grades in school. Having standards is a great example of self-respect and that’s something I will always advocate for.
However, the problem is when we become so compelled by our standards that they become unrealistic. When you transform guidelines into rules, you place limits on yourself. Instead of seeking out a great partner that treats you well, you decide that your partner must meet specific criteria to have a chance with you. Until that criteria is met, you limit yourself to the amount of experiences you can have due to a superficial list of rules.
This same rule can be applied to work as well. Many jobs expect a high standard of quality from their employees. However, if that high quality of work becomes perfectionism — when anything below high quality is deemed unacceptable— you’re just making life hard for yourself. You’re not going to produce high quality work all of the time. It’s natural to make mistakes, fail or experience setbacks. The important part is adapting and learning from those negative experiences.
Expectations — The False Reality
The expectation is that we hope to succeed in every aspect of our life and that’s perfectly normal. However, in reality, we’re going to fail at some point because perfection is literally impossible. Adaptation and acceptance of mistakes are key mindsets for success in life.
Expectation is the fantasy you desire. Expectations create a false reality that is not only harmful, but can become toxic if taken too far. Your expectations will warp your well meaning girlfriend into someone that can’t provide everything you desire. Your expectations will keep you from achieving job satisfaction because you’re asking for too much.
Your high expectations will twist the world. You expect the world to conform around you.
Instead, surrender your expectations and give in to reality. Allow yourself to be happy within the world instead of expecting the world to conform to your high standards. To live with such high standards, you should only expect inevitable disappointment and pushback.
Reality — The true freedom
True freedom and happiness lies in accepting the world around us.
Drop the expectations and allow the world to embrace you. Accept what you can and cannot control. Most importantly, be happy with what you can control.
The world is a chaotic place. When you expect too much of it, it will inevitably disappoint. The world, the people and events within it, aren’t made to conform around you. To expect the world to do so would just be entitlement…and just unrealistic.
So live there in reality. Love the people around you despite their flaws. Learn to deal with difficult situations instead of expecting them to conform to your standards. Focus on solutions, not problems.
Adapt and overcome. Live in reality.
Dayon Cotton is a writer, fitness enthusiast, somewhat eccentric and active duty member of the US Navy. I’m also engaging in public speaking as well. For more of my personal writing, check out my page here on Medium. For personal inquiries or freelance writing, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Facebook at Dayon Cotton or hit me up on Instagram @ dayoncotton