Expectations!

Gosh, I don’t know about you; but this opening quote by Steve Maraboli slaps HARD! The boldness in the title of the blog post also forces me to dig deep and introspect because, like many people, I’ve had unrealistic expectations from family, friends, business associates and colleagues that have resulted in broken relationships.

If you allow, I’d like to channel the Academic in me and provide the dictionary definition of the word “expectation” because let’s be honest; we often manipulate definitions to suit our circumstances and validate how we feel. So if we are to be objective, the Oxford Dictionary defines “Expectation” as a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. A belief that someone should or will achieve something”. Now that we are all on the same page, let’s talk about EXPECTATIONS!

“Set the standard! Stop expecting others to show you love, acceptance, commitment and respect; when you don’t even show that to yourself” Steve Maraboli

Growing up, I’ve always expected a lot from my family and friends. I expected unconditional love, support and commitment. I expected people to be on time because I am great at managing my time. My expectations knew no boundaries. I expected my family and friends to always show up to my initiatives, to communicate openly and honestly, celebrate my dreams and achievements. How entitled and naive!

Photo by Msu_Clout

I was also naive enough to think that the only thing that could come between my friends and I would be relocating or God forbid death. Never in my wildest dreams did I think a friendship would end as a result of “artistic differences”, misunderstandings, out growing each other, communication breakdown or expectations! Someone should have told me that this adulting business is rubbish and comes with a truckload of challenges. But yes, I’ve lost a lot of friends and that broke my heart!

Over the years, I’ve ended a few family relationships because they became toxic due to ongoing family feuds. I’ve also lost friends and business associates because of money issues, misunderstandings, dishonesty, back stabbing and unmet expectations. When this happens, the natural thing to do is to shift the blame onto the other person and position them as the perpetrator. It is also very easy to manipulate the truth in our favor, highlighting their transgressions so that we prove our innocence. Well, I am guilty of this and it’s time I change that!

From a professional standpoint, the same expectations somehow made their way into my life. I remember my expectations when starting out as a young professional- demanding to be treated a certain way because I had a postgraduate qualification. The expectations I had from a remuneration and position perspective also made no sense at the time. Yes, people need to be remunerated fairly, but they should also work hard to earn the big bucks. I had expectations of how colleagues were to perform their duties and how clients were to react to situations. Man I really messed up didn’t I?

The thing about expectations is that unless they are explicitly stated, we create room for assumptions and we all know what they say about assumptions. It’s also not every expectation that will be welcomed with open hands or accepted. My biggest mistake was not teaching people how I wanted to be treated or what my expectations are. Equally important was not taking the time to learn people’s expectations and/or making peace with the fact that we are different as people. This also speaks to not communicating the small, but big expectations when it comes to things such as birthdays, romantic dates, friendship hangouts, how we prioritize and/or communicate things. I assumed that my family and friends should know my expectations, which was totally wrong and unfair. I expected colleagues to just get it – that TKay doesn’t like this and that. I expected people to just conform to my standards, arrogantly assuming that I’m always right… goodness me! It comes with no surprise that I’ve struggled to make relationships (personal and professional) work as a young adult.

Photo by Slug Digital (Edited by Ephraim Hantsi)

I’ve spent a greater part of my 2020 really reflecting on the type of person I’ve been over the last few years. For the most part, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror or the person I had become. I was so consumed by how things should be done (from my perspective) that the default was “my way or the high way”. From most of the relationship that ended, I had a big part to play. I judged and held people accountable to my unrealistic expectations. When they could not match up, I got hurt and disappointed. I blamed them. I was arrogant enough to actually to cut them off without giving them the opportunity to explain their side of the story. I also allowed the hurt and disappointment to eat away at me, denying any peace of mind. It really was time to put an end to this madness!

In this journey, I learnt to stop expecting people to behave in a way that’s comfortable for me. I’ve learnt to let people be themselves. I’ve learnt to show up for myself and to celebrate myself. I’ve learnt to work hard, because it matters to me. I’ve learnt to do the things that make me happy and allow people to do the same for themselves. If 2020 is anything to go by, I’ve learnt to ask for forgiveness to those I hurt over the last few years and to surround myself with those people I actually vibe with. It’s easier to be my authentic self and to commit to being the best version of myself. It is important to have self awareness- to know my strengths and weaknesses and to expect less from other people.

Everyday since, I ask myself “how willing are you to bet on yourself? Well, the answer to that is really simple.

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