So picture this: my man is down in San Diego for work. I have been a little bristly lately, so I want to make it up to him. I run to two different stores to get the ingredients for a chocolate cake (his favorite). I make the cake, dancing around the kitchen while doing so. While it is getting creamily delicious in the oven, I hop in the shower, curl my hair, and throw on a bit of mascara to make the face a bit more presentable. Whilst sitting watching Parks and Rec with curls pinned up all over my head (think 1950’s housewife), I discover that he’s not sure when he’ll get to my place-which in his world, could mean 3am or later.
*deep breath* No big deal. It’s summer. Late nights are what memories are made of. With renewed purpose, I take a couple pictures of how amazing I look and send them off. Actual text: “Drive safe *lip mark emoji*.” Subtext: “Since you don’t know what I’m planning here’s a hint. Don’t I look good? Better hurry up.” Of course, in true manly fashion, subtext goes zooming overhead and I get a favorable response based on the actual content of the message. Rude.
A couple hours later, I get the call that he’s just going to crash up in SD for the night. It’s almost 1am and he falls asleep driving at night so logical Hannah is glad he’s being safe. Emotional Hannah is pissed. How dare he not show up for the amazing night he knew nothing about? How could he so heartlessly decide based on sense and rationality? Hmph.
This is just one little snippet of how, I’m realizing, I allow my dashed expectations of something to ruin my mood and dictate my responses. One would think that being a teacher would have given me endless patience and humor to work around upheavals. Apparently, however, my ability to roll with the punches is left at the classroom door.
I am a planner, through and through. I get a buzz from timing out the perfect event or imagining exactly how certain scenarios will play out in my mind. Spoiler alert: my mind and reality are like ex’s who don’t speak, apparently—nothing ever goes as imagined.
The situation last night made me wonder–WHY is having a failed expectation such a blow? Why can’t I just shrug it off and go merrily tra-la-laing back into the flow of things?
After some contemplation, I realized that I am treating every situation as if the other party knows about and/or is rooting for my perfectly planned out scenario and is acting accordingly. Even though I logically know this is not true, when life proves that this is not the case, I tend to take it pretty hard.
One song that has spoken to me in particular concerning the above situation is “Life Changes” by Thomas Rhett. One lyric specifically states “You make your plans and you hear God laughing” and if that doesn’t describe my life with ACCURACY I don’t know what does.
I’m realizing that I need to accept people for who they are and let them react to things in the way that they’re going to react and (this is key) BE OK WITH THEIR REACTION. Above all, I need to assume that people have positive motivations, not negative (until PROVEN incorrect).
I think that this basic, foundational assumption is at the core of all contentment. Why would I willingly assume that people are out to get me? Why would I put myself into a state of sadness and anger when I could put on a different mind frame and literally transform EVERYTHING?
I also think that shifting my initial approach to the situation will help exponentially: instead of saying to myself “It will go like____“, I should be saying “I’d like it to go like_____“. Just that tiny, tiny rewording will monumentally change how I view any deviations from how I thought it might play out.
For example, instead of saying “My dinner party will start at 7pm”, say “I’d like the party to start at 7pm.” In the first scenario, if the party hasn’t started yet and it’s 7:10, panic starts a’brewing. In the second, if it’s 7:10 and it hasn’t started yet, flexibility comes in to play: “Oh, well, let’s wait until so and so arrives, and then we can kick things off”.
Instant mindset shift. Instant relief. Instant enjoyment.
Because really, that’s what life boils down to: ENJOYMENT. You cannot have joy in the present moment if you are constantly comparing it to a fake moment you have placed upon a pedestal.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go through my life miserable simply because I’m throwing a mental tantrum about how things should be versus how they are. Life is too precious to waste on wishes and should-haves and why-didn’t-they’s.
So, my promise to myself is this:
From this moment forward, I will keep my standards high and my expectations low. I will know what I am worth and also enjoy what I am given. I will not settle, yet I will be content with what I have.
Paradoxical? Yes. But that, my friends, is life. And what greater honor do we have than to live it, learn from it, and wholeheartedly love it every. damn. day?