Hello, I’d like to introduce you to your expectations.
Perhaps you’ve met them before. Perhaps others have too, or failed to for that matter.
Maybe Christmas met them, every last one of them and they rolled away deliciously fulfilled.
Or maybe not.
There are so many expectations at Christmas time. Big, small, anxious, wild; even those that are tucked away so incredibly well that it’s easy to forget someone is carrying them at all.
Some are small, or at least we pretend that they are, because if we can just make them small enough maybe they wont matter. They hide so well don’t they? Behind smiles, jokes, wine glasses. They can stretch uncomfortably behind silences, or jump out uninvited between words.
Kids often haven’t learned to hide theirs. Should they? The answer is probably somewhere between manners and truth, and how many people they bowl over when they run into a room expectations first.
Adults handle them dozens of different ways. Sometimes they’re as loud as their owners or downright impossible to meet. Sometimes they’ve been let down so many times they expect the worst, pre emptive disappointment might seem easier.
They tug at heartstrings with the ferocity of a candy cane hungry toddler pulling on a parents sleeve.
We can push them aside over and over again… but they don’t really go away, do they?
So why don’t we just bring them out in the open right now, and really look at them. Yours, not everyone else’s. There are too many to meet all at once so let’s be selfish for a minute.
What did you expect at this intense time of year? Did you get it?
This isn’t about gifts, but it can be, they’re your expectations after all, so they can be about anything you want and that’s perfectly fine. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There’s no right or wrong – just easy or hard.
So here’s a better question; how did your expectations contribute to your enjoyment of this time of year? Did they make it easier or harder?
Did you meet your own expectations?
If not, ask yourself; were they kind, within your abilities and truly important?
Sometimes not meeting our own expectations means we need to make better choices, change habits or give ourselves a push. Sometimes the expectations we have for ourselves are so big they forget to allow for the beautiful mess of being human. So if you need a push, good. If you need to stop pushing and cut your expectations down to size, that’s good too. You’re never going to know if you don’t look at them.
Did other people meet your expectations?
If not, let’s start with the obvious; did they know you had them? Did you tell any of the ridiculously busy people who mean the world to you that you were carrying these expectations around and how much they mattered to you? Or were you so in the habit of pushing your expectations aside that no one could meet them because they didn’t even know that they were there.
It’s ok, you know, to say that you want or need something – even if it’s just a hug or to be really truly heard.
Did events meet your expectations?
This time of year is so fraught with doing things how we think we should because of society, religion or family. If the events you went to met your expectations then I’m so glad – you deserve that. But we get this idea of how things should go and sometimes it’s absolutely fine to shake those expectations up a bit, not lower them, just change what they look like.
Your easier, happier, more joyful holiday season does not have to look like anyone else’s. It shouldn’t feel like fake smiles and disappointment. It should make you feel good.
We’re about to start a brand new year and all the goals in the world wont make it joyful if you don’t bring expectations to the table too. Own them. Play with them. Change them. Be bold with them. Maybe don’t hold onto them so tight.