I’ve worked a lot on my expectations for this week at family camp. I’m trying to take it as it comes, without expecting too much from myself, my kids or others. I don’t want to be so careful about how my choices or my actions will be perceived. I’m doing my best not to read into situations or worry about what others may think about me.
Life is a series of pitfalls and difficult emotional minefields. Any time you have a group of people gathered together, the potential exists for hurt feelings and words that wound and damage. We are all broken, me most of all, and I must extend grace to others where I require it myself. This week is a good reminder of this.
Getting older is helping me. For the first time, I feel like I can see the finish line for my life, and it puts everything into perspective in a fresh way. I don’t want to worry about things I can’t control. I never know if William is going to go to his kid’s program here, or flat out refuse and cling to my leg while screeching at the top of his lungs like he has been doing. I used to stress out about it, wondering what people would think if he was in with the adults and not with his class, but now I recognize that some things are out of my control, in spite of my best efforts.
I have to constantly lower my expectations on others and on myself. Where I disappoint others with my words and actions, I have to decide to let it go and not obsess over it. It’s not easy to do this, but it’s imperative if I’m going to be relaxed and happy in this world. I can only do my best, in any given situation, and not think about how other people may perceive me. Where I offend people and I’m not aware of it, I’m relying on them to tell me so I can take responsibility and repair the rift, but when nothing is said to me, I don’t want to panic about it.
If I could master this, my life would be much easier all around. I think we all make snap judgements on others, every single day, and therefore we are all sensitive to being judged the way that we judge. I want people to treat me a certain way, and I get angry when they don’t, and then I become concerned that they are frustrated with me because I’m not meeting their expectations.
Sometimes I wonder if it’s reasonable to have no expectations on each other. We expect good behaviour and polite manners from our kids, and they tend to rise to the level of our expectations. In these areas, expectations are positive things. The lines become blurred when we bring our societal and familial expectations to bear in our daily lives, thinking we’ll be treated a certain way by those in our circles, and then becoming miserably disappointed when people inevitably fail us.
I have to remember that I fail others, just as often as they disappoint me. I’m working from the assumption that people are trying their best, just as I am doing, and that sometimes failure is simply a part of the equation. Failure has more to teach us than success, if we are brave enough to really learn the lesson.