Friday, March 20, 2015

Deepest Depths: When Unrealistic Expectations Fall Through

A quick note for everyone participating in the flash fiction challenge: I hope it’s going well for everyone! Remember, they’re due one week from today by 3pm Central Time. I’ll be linking to everyone’s stories within a couple days after the 27th. I look forward to reading them!

Expectations. They’re our benchmarks – our projections of how something should be and our standard to compare the reality against.

Expectations can be deadly.

My life has been, in many ways, defined by expectations set far from where they should be. The results always hurt.

Unrealistic Expectations

Have you ever held conversations in your head, playing both parts in what you hope will be a future reality? I have. I expect him to ask me out, when all I really get is a “Hey.” I imagine us having a long, deep talk, and he ends up avoiding me. Maybe you’ve never experienced this before, but these things have definitely happened to me. I set myself up for catastrophic disappointment with my expectations.

‘Cause, see, that’s the thing: unrealistic expectations bring disappointment.

Ultimately, I think we tie our expectations to our emotions. Or at least I do. When my brain says, “Hey, there’s not much to go on here,” my heart takes off with wild projections of hope, dragging my expectations along with it. When I don’t keep that in check, my life goes quickly off kilter.

Now, I realize that I’ve mostly referenced romantic situations so far, but I’ve let my expectations drag me down in other areas, as well. I expect stellar marks on my paper, but I get comments that I wasn’t prepared for. I expect immense blogging success, but the numbers don’t follow through. I’ve been disappointed plenty of times, and it’s usually tied to my unrealistic expectations.

I can’t always tint the world through  what I want to see. Hope is a beautiful thing, but I can’t let it cloud what’s real. Maybe what I need to do is be honest with myself, both about myself and about my world. Idealism doesn’t always work.

Expectations aren’t always bad, though. The dictionary defines “expectation” as “something expected, a thing looked forward to.” Pretty innocuous on it’s own. Some expectations are important to have. Expecting someone to follow through on their promises is a good thing. Recognizing that they may not is also important. As I said above, expectations are our benchmarks. They help us evaluate events and formulate new strategies. It’s not the act of expecting that’s so bad. Instead, trouble comes when we twist reality and fit our expectations to something that’s not real.

Sometimes relationships fall apart. Sometimes people don’t say what we wanted them to. And sometimes it hurts.

Yet I have one expectation that will never fall short. I expect that God will always be with me. That will never fall short because this isn’t my projection. He told me so. “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). He will always love me (Romans 8:38-39). He has a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11). He hears my cries (Romans 8:26). These are expectations that I know will be fulfilled. Because they’re not some emotional fantasy I’m hoping for.

They’re real.


  1. True words. :) I've found in my life that it's best to hope for the best, expect the worst, and be pleasantly surprised.

    1. Indeed. That's not a bad philosophy, in some ways.

  2. Of course the one thing I'm always sure of is God's providence. I never doubt that. :)

    1. Very, very true! Wherever would we be without that? Deep, deep trouble...


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