Oh, the world we live in! Where every day new relationships blossom and yet every minute ripe relationships fail. Why so.. we ponder. Now, I am not an expert on relationships or a Psychology major. But I have a keen sense of observation and I love reading – including people. Now that it’s out of the way, let’s continue.
Leave aside the external factors, one of the biggest reasons for the failure is because we end up expecting too much. I am a culprit too. We expect from our partner, from our families, from friends, from children, from neighbours, from society, from colleagues, from the governing parties, from EVERYONE and that includes yourself.
Broadly speaking, there are two species of this monster. There are Expectations you have from people and Expectations that people have of you.
I remember attending a workshop at The Landmark Forum which made me do a deep dive assessment of my behaviour and how it was impacting my present and shaping my future. One of those introspections included the expectations that weigh us down. And more importantly the stress on how, more often than not, it’s our expectation of people that disappoint us. It was not something I didn’t already know. Yet it brought with it an epiphany of how I was the one responsible for ruining my mood, day after day.
Even Alexander Pope (the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century) said and I quote “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.” One of the key factors that helped me resurface from my blues postpartum was acknowledging this fact. Not that I am immune to this syndrome now, I am just more conscious of the fact that I control what I feel. I can either feel let down when my expectation – which was set by me – was not met. Or I can simply not expect much from others. The choice is mine.
The other species – people’s expectation from you is even more interesting.
Some 8 or 9 years back when my parents started looking for a match for me, one of the first questions they were asked is if I could cook. I think those people had confused the job profile of a chef to a wife. Well, such were their expectations from the woman they wanted to welcome in the family. Thank heavens, I didn’t apply for that role. They would have had to spend their life regretting hiring me.
I got married in 2011 and remember the events that led up to my wedding day. One of the first on my to-do list was to finalize the invitation list. I remember having multiple discussions on why we had to invite “family” we hadn’t spoken to in years and met even less. The logic I was given was that they had invited us to their son’s/daughter’s wedding some 15 years back and would expect an invitation. I don’t even remember these distant relative’s faces. Alas, they were invited. And when they approached us on stage to give us the customary congratulatory blessings, all I could muster was a Hello Uncle & Aunty for I didn’t even remember if they were my chacha/chachi/bua/mama/maami/maasi…you get the idea.
When the news of my pregnancy spread and congratulatory wished flew in, also came in remarks as to how I will have to be strong and look after the baby (isn’t carrying a baby for nine months and going through delivery enough proof of a woman’s strength?). How I will need to look after the baby day and night. My husband would return exhausted from work and need rest and “proper” sleep to return to work the next day. Well, what about the mother who has gone through an excruciating labour/c-sec and needs rest for recovery, yet is managing and taking care of a newborn baby. OMG! The expectations people have!
People expect you to “like” every one of their 7654 photos on FB from the same vacation. They expect you to show up just because they have invited you even if its 56 seconds before the party kick-off time. They expect you to have all answers. They expect you to raise a perfect kid. They expect you to respond to every one of their WhatsApp messages.
The examples are aplenty. Kya kahenge Log. Sabse bada yeh rog (What will people say, the biggest disorder). Somebody once said to me that expectations are disappointments in the making. The burden of these expectation creates a false sense of how things should be.
It’s alright to have expectations. However, you also need to accept that they won’t always come through. It’s best to be prepared in case what you expect doesn’t happen. Liberate yourself from the trap these expectations lay. It’s a beautiful journey from there on.
“Expectations were like fine pottery. The harder you held them, the more likely they were to crack.”
― Brandon Sanderson