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Have You had Your Expectations Trodden Upon?

Hourglas of Expectations vs Reality

Expectation Vs Reality

My interactions with folks leave me frustrated sometimes.

My most natural reaction is a rant: a general one at the world, a specific one at the person, or an internal one, at myself and that person.

Once in a while, I get indifference where I expected kindness. At others, I get a stab in the back where I expected a pat. I get anger when I expected understanding, I get opposition where I expected support.

My realization: People would behave according to their capability and their reality, and not according to my expectations.

Sure, I can expect people to be kind, but whether they will actually be kind depends on their reality. That does not mean I should let go of my expectations, just that I need to remember that they’re my expectations, and not their reality.

Sometimes, they’re met. At others, they aren’t. That is how the world is.

The joy of always remembering the difference between expectation and reality is in not only having your expectations met sometimes, but occasionally exceeded. If they aren’t met– you always knew that there was that chance, so no point in feeling beat-up about it!

In your relationships, whether as spouses, parents, sons or daughters, lovers, siblings– you have expectations of the other person– and sometimes, they aren’t met.

You have a choice: you can get frustrated and rant, or you can begin to see the difference between expectation and reality. Analyze whether it would be best to change your expectation, or calmly and slowly go about changing the reality.

I’ve begun to take the latter option (not always as I’d like, but more and more often)–and I’m moving towards a happier and calmer me. Besides, I’ve begun to remember that others have expectations from me too, and that it is always a balance between my self-respect and independence, and their happiness.

So what happens when a person acts contrary to how you think they should? Do you differentiate between your expectations and their reality?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • elroyjones says:

    Expectations get me in trouble because I’ve always believed people will rise to my expectations or sink to my suspicions so I’m always expecting the best. Sometimes I am disappointed. I have incorporated more flexibility in my life, which has decreased disappointment. Finding the balance in compromise and autonomy is challenging. Examining my own motivations is revealing.

  • Ray Colon says:

    Hi Damyanti, despite mounds of evidence to the contrary, I expect the best from people. Consequently, my expectations are not aligned with reality — but that’s okay. I would rather deal with disappointment than embrace an outlook that is negative or suspicious of people and their motives.

    As you mentioned, even good expectations are sometimes exceeded. I see that as a bonus and a reason to continue to hope for the best from others, and myself.

  • Love this! It’s all so, so true and something I think we all need to hear from time to time. Good luck on your journey of accepting people for not always meeting expectations. It’s hard, isn’t it?

  • Very good point. I still expect people to respond in a positive manner, but I’m not disappointed when they don’t. A lot has to depend on what is going on in their lives at the time.

    • Damyanti says:

      I still expect people to respond in a positive manner, but I’m not disappointed when they don’t.

      Absolutely, Alex. That is basically it– not be disappointed, knowing it is only our expectations, and those can be subjective. And totally agree with your last line too.

  • Arlee Bird says:

    Great observation with a dose of good advice. Age doesn’t seem to change old habits and I’m afraid my little world gets shaken more than I’d like. But I try to accept things as they come my way and not let the negatives shake me up too badly. I do have a reflexive instinct to withdraw when I feel like the outside is not giving me what I hope for. I’ve been on the defense for much of my life.

    Wrote By Rote

    • Damyanti says:

      Lee, thanks. Coming from you, that is high praise. I agree with you– we can’t be like a pendulum that swings with outside events and their influences– silence within begets silence without. We’re all on the defense most of the time– the trick is how to leave ourselves open to change and positivity, when we know we’re also opening ourselves to hurt. But unless we leave all the windows of our mind and heart open, we’ll get stifled in the lack of fresh air– so we’ve got to brave the risk of unsavory intruders in order to live and breathe to the fullest extent.

  • Tasha Turner says:

    I’m often confused and baffled by others behavior. I don’t know how much of the time I get angry by the difference. I have been trying to change both my expectations and the reality depending on which makes the most sense in the given situation. Great post. Has given me lots to think about.

    • Damyanti says:

      I try not to change my expectations, only the reality– if I expect a sibling or spouse to behave in a certain way and they do not, I try to calm the storm within, the very real storm. Once that calm comes in, I can see things more clearly, and can decide if I need to do something to my own behavior to change theirs into what I desire, whether I should realize that their behavior is none of my business unless it is affecting me, and whether letting them make their decisions contrary to my expectations is the only choice left.

  • DarcKnyt says:

    Yes, we are often disappointed when expectations and reality don’t align. It’s not always with people either. I had some similar things occur recently, only to realize the expectations being too high led to my inevitable drop.

    I hope a happier, calmer you comes sooner than later. I’m … still working on it.

    • Damyanti says:

      I used to lower my expectations, believing I could trick events and people into exceeding them. Now I recognize that my expectations are mine, they are subjective, and unrelated to real events and people– but the fact that they may never come true is no reason why I should lower them.I have to be positive and hopeful within myself– because that is the only thing that truly lies in my control– my attitude and reactions, my expectations and my reactions when they are not met. I cannot change the reality outside of me– but I can change the reality within, right?

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