Note To Self

Plant An Expectation, Reap A Disappointment

In her latest Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks explores the uselessness of expectations and how we can move beyond them.

By Emily Brooks

Note To Self

In her latest Note To Self, FW editor Emily Brooks explores the uselessness of expectations and how we can move beyond them.

By Emily Brooks

I have never really dreamed of the wedding and the white dress and the ‘I do’ like other women. And when I say ‘other women’ I mean of course, ‘my sister’. So I smugly thought I was exempt from that ‘thing’ you spend your whole life waiting for. Until I realised I was not exempt and should have been a little less smug, because the moment arrived and did not go as planned. It was not a wedding. It was something far less public – far more intrinsic – and it did not go badly. It went well. There was no problem except, I guess, my reaction. I did not react as expected. And that is where it all went wrong. I had an expectation. And as the old adage goes, plant an expectation, reap a disappointment.

Expectations are kind of like jokes we slowly create in our heads, only to play them on ourselves years’ later. We expect the promotion will make us feel like this, or the anniversary will be celebrated like this, or the wedding will feel like this. We set these internal bars astronomically high in our heads for ourselves and the people around us. And when they don’t meet them or our reactions don’t go as planned, we arrive disappointed in a moment which was probably perfectly fine. When they did nothing wrong and our reaction wasn’t incorrect; they just did not meet the invisible, astronomically high bar set in our heads so we punish everyone for it. Remind me why we do this to ourselves? If I am to answer myself here, which is what I tend to do, I guess the answer lies with dreams and ambition and cultural norms. We have the dreams, we have the ambition, and the cultural norms tell us how we should feel about them. So we dream and aspire and reach, and when we reach, we react. And if we react in a way that does not fit what is deemed ‘normal’ by the culture we live in or what the culture helped us create in our heads, we have not met our expectations and are, as a result, disappointed.

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