Managing expectations is a tricky area for me. It’s not my strongest suit, but I’m going to launch in as bravely as I can and see what I might have to say on this topic that can hang so many of us up.
It’s a beautiful idea to release your expectations and just accept what is. I’m sure that this method provides more happiness than the angsty hand-wringing that I’m fond of doing, but getting from stress to surrender is the hard part.
Like many of us, I know what I want in life, or at least I think what I want will bring me satisfaction, contentment, money, happiness, etc. I hate getting caught up in the spider web that is our culture’s inane idea of what success is supposed to look like, and yet it happens again and again to me.
I got a bad review recently from one of the sessions I presented at a teacher’s convention. The material I offered was not at all what this teacher was looking for. It threw me for a loop, because I heard a lot of positive feedback right after the session. It’s one thing to know in theory that you are not everyone’s cup of tea, and another thing to read it so bluntly in black letters on a white screen.
I’m querying a manuscript again and getting plenty of rejection. With each fresh “no thanks, your writing is not for me” my heart sinks and it’s only natural to wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life. But then a bit of time passes and I remind myself that it just takes one person to connect with my work. Not everyone is going to like it and that is totally fine.
But it’s hard. There’s no way for it not to be. The key is not to wrap my self-esteem up in the product I’m putting out in the world (writing, speaking, etc.) and keep the expectations reasonable. It’s going to be a long road, with plenty of bumps and detours and setbacks. Not quitting is what matters.
I think the best thing to do is to stay busy with other projects. You want fresh ideas flowing so you don’t fixate on what might be stagnating in one area of your work or life. Just keep going, and try not to obsess over why nothing seems to be going your way. One day you’ll step up to bat and the ball will connect with that satisfying thwack. You can’t predict when it will be and you’ll probably have to strike out a lot to get to that one thrilling hit.
Our expectations tie us up in all kinds of unpleasant knots. I’m determined to push on, in spite of the many roadblocks in front of me. So much of this life is subjective. One person loves what you’re doing and the next person despises or ignores it. It’s important not to take it personally. I have to believe that what I’m doing has value. It also helps to be reminded that a little bit of kindness goes a long way.