Friday, June 8, 2012

Adjusting Your Expectations And Giving Up

I never expected to be here.  When I was 18, I expected to graduate from college and become a psychologist.  A couple years and a major change later, I expected to get a good job at someplace like Boeing in their human resources department.  When I was 22, I expected my fiance to marry me and we'd raise the baby that was on the way together.  The next year I woke up one morning expecting to make it to work safely.  I expected to live in Michigan my whole life.  And at 34, I expected my first book would attract somebody's interest.  I definitely expected to be published by now.

Needless to say, I've had a lot of expectations in my life.  Also needless to say, none of the above actually happened.  In each instance, something derailed me and I had to adjust my expectations.  In a lot of instances, I could've given up.  (And in the case of college, I actually did give up - but I didn't realize it until later.)  Instead I adjusted my expectations.

Recently, we had a setback.  The daughter I raised, the one who's so damn smart I could weep for joy, the one who aced her ACT...  She bombed her first year of college.  After much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments, we made the decision she won't be going back*. 

And we all adjusted our expectations.  She expected to graduate, move to Japan and get a job managing a software development company.  Now she has to expect a lower paying job, not so nice a car, and a lot of hard work to get anywhere.  Sure, she's bummed, but by adjusting her expectations, she can roll with this.  She can put her head down, work hard, save some money and gain the maturity she needs to go back to college.

At least, that's the adjusted expectation.  She hasn't given up on her goal of graduating from college.  Whether she ever does isn't the point right now.  The point is that she still has goals and expectations she's working toward.

I guess what I'm trying to say in my rambling, disjointed way is that things don't always work out the way you intend them to.  Shit happens.  You get derailed.  And then you have a choice - you can adapt or you can quit.

This morning, I thought about quitting.  I was standing on the porch smoking and the thought jumped into my head - totally unbidden and without any warning - that I should just quit writing.  I haven't really gone anywhere with it.  More and more often, I find something else to do rather than the work I know I should be putting in. 

Maybe I need to adjust my own expectations and see what happens.  Or perhaps I've just stopped having expectations about my work.  Instead of expecting to finish this and send it out, I'm just floating through.  I'll give setting up some expectations a try and see what happens.  I expect things will improve.

And don't worry.  I'm still not planning on quitting - no matter what messages my subconscious throws up at me while I'm enjoying a nice morning and a bit of nicotine. 

*She wanted to go back this fall.  We just couldn't see throwing another $10K at the problem on the off chance that she grows a work ethic between now and August.


  1. Okay, I'm sure I don't have this quote right, but hopefully it's meaning comes thru. One of my faves is "Emancipate yourself from your outdated expectations."

    I know for me, things never turn out the way I expect.

    Hang in there!

  2. I've had to learn the hard way that "shit happens" and learn to deal with it. My entire life, I've tried to control future, my jobs, the way I think about things until I met my fiance and he taught me that no matter how badly we want to control things... shit will happen. Plans will get derailed like you said, things will fall apart and other things will fall into place.

    good luck with everything. I believe in you and by proxy, I believe in your daughter. She has a great mother for an example, so everything will be alright.

  3. I've been worried about you. Now I understand why. Sorry, m'friend. I will I was there to pour the pitcher and hand out a few hugs. Since I'm not, I offer this thought:

    Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation. ~~Charlotte Bronte

    Hang in there, B.E. Your daughter will find her own way just as you will find yours. Keep the faith. And know that people care.

  4. First hugs to you all. Second - it was only when I let go the noose of working for publication that it happened.


  5. Great quote, JB. Thanks. I'm hanging.

    I hear ya there, Jade. And thanks for saying that. Sometimes I don't feel like such a great mother.

    Aw, thanks for worrying, Silver, and I'm sorry I made you worry. I wouldn't wish for you to be here for anything. I'm not that mean. But I'd wish I was in OK - sipping mai tais with you on my veranda overlooking Lake Wister.

    :hugs: Liz. And I'm so happy for you. It's been a long road for both of us, and I'm so glad you reached this milestone. Let me know when The Cornish House is available in the states.

  6. Shit certainly does happen, but I think it's how we rally and change our expectations to deal with life's little clangers that is the most important thing.

    I hope all settles done again for you and your daughter. I'm sure she'll find the right thing to suit her. Some of the most successful people in the UK (Richard Branson, Virgin Airlines, being one of them) doesn't have a qualification to his name, or very few, I believe. Look how successful he is.

  7. I'm so sorry, hun. I know this must be difficult on your whole family. I know there isn't anything I can say to make you feel better, but I do truly believe you're a good mother. Hang in there. xoxoxo

  8. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to "Give it your best, but have no expectations for the outcome."

    It was weird at first, trying to figure out what that meant, but I think I'm getting it now. Things rarely ever turn out the way I expect they will, but yet they never turn out badly. Just... differently.

    Sending you a giant hug.