Sunday, October 22, 2006

Are you living on dreams or expectations?

The only difference between dreams and expectations is that it's okay when your dreams don't come true.

Expectations are unnecessary goals that we (or others) set for ourselves. Why are they unnecessary? Because they are set with the assumption that they will be reached, putting us in a no-win situation. Why? Since we "expect" to reach the goal, succeeding gives us no feeling of accomplishment. Failing to reach expectations is, well -- a letdown.

Expectations are a strange thing. Take marriage for example. A lot of people I know "expect" to get married more than they "want" to get married. Why? Well, I believe part of the reason is that it is hard to truly "want" to get married if you haven't found that special person yet. The reason that people expect to get married is because that's the way it is in our society. We were raised in families that were (usually) the result of marriage. We see it everywhere in life, and from a very young age, we expect that is the way things will turn out.

It's easy to see how devastating it could be for someone to be (still) unmarried at 40. Do they "want" to get married? Maybe. But I will bet that much more of their disappointment comes from the fact that, all of their life, they have been expecting marriage. This expectation leads everyone to think that marriage and kids are "right" for them, when in many cases, it just isn't true. They are mistaking expectations for true feelings.

Expectations set upon us by other people are even worse. In some cases, they compound our own expectations (if your parents and friends are also expecting you to get married). When other people have expectations for us that we don't share, their expectations often become expectations for ourselves.

Family and friends are important, don't get me wrong. But whose life are you living? No one's but your own. We cannot let other people's ideas for what our lives are supposed to be start to dictate our actions and feelings. We can only feel truly accomplished by reaching dreams that we set for ourselves.

What do we get from expectations? Expectations are good for helping to confuse and blur the line between what we truly want, and what we only think we want.

Wouldn't life be a whole lot easier if we only had dreams? Nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

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