I woke up this morning thinking a lot about expectations. For a long time, I have said the "The key to happiness is low expectations." I said it, and I wanted to believe it because that would make life easier, but I don't. Never have, never will. I wasn't raised that way.
My brother Tad and I grew up in the same house, but turned out very differently. He was kinda the bad seed to begin with and then used some bad things that happened to us as an excuse for his bad behavior. If there was a chance to make the wrong decision or take the easy way out no matter what the cost, he took it. Tad was a runaway his entire life until he dropped out of high school at 14. Since then, he has spent his life in and out of rehabs, mental institutions and jail. He is 42 now and not much has changed. He has had a few good years here and there, but always seems to fall off the wagon.
My parents expected the worst out of him but always had a tiny bit of hope that he would get his shit together one day. They took him in over and over and he turned on them every time. I gave up hope years ago I'm sad to say, but I understand my parents love for him. Finally, a couple years ago, Tad attacked my mom while he was living with her in an attempt to get her pain medication. He went to jail and my parents have a lifetime restraining order against him. It's a sad day when you lose all hope. And once it's gone, it's gone forever.
When we were growing up, there were very different expectations on us. I was expected to get straight A's, be a star athlete and ALWAYS do the right thing. If I got a B...my parents were very disappointed. If my brother even showed up to school, that was progress. If he managed to get a D- in one class, that was considered success. They expected nothing out of him. If he actually made a good decision or didn't totally fuck something up, he was rewarded. I didn't get a lot of rewards for doing the right thing, it was just expected.
My whole life up until this very moment, I was pissed off about that double standard. It felt so unfair. My brother was 2 years older than me, and I felt like I spent my life making up for his bad behavior. I felt like my parents pushed me to excel to cover up the embarrassment that was Tad. And this may be true. I don't know what their reasons were, and I'm not sure it was a conscious decision on their part. The bottom line today...in this moment...is that i'm happy they expected more from me. It made me who I am today.
Some people think I expect too much out of life, friendships and relationships. And maybe I do, but that was instilled in me. I was raised to try my best every time. To do things right every time. When I dust, I pick shit up, I don't just wipe around it. When it comes to my work, I never feel like I know enough or my class was good enough. I always feel like there was something I could have done better. I never want to become complacent with my life or how I treat the people I love. Do I make mistakes and bad decisions? EVERY DAMN DAY! I do my best to recognize those mistakes...it may take a second, a day, or a year, but eventually I will see the error of my ways. I'm not perfect..FAR from it. But I'm trying to get a little better every day.
There have been several people in my life that have said I expect too much from them. I didn't ask for anything more than they wanted from me. They expected a lot from me as well, they just didn't feel like they needed to return it. I have been in relationships where I gave them everything...my walls were totally down and they took it for granted. I guess they liked a good challenge. I gave my love away too easily and it wasn't exciting enough for them. Slowly I expected less and less from them until there was nothing left. Of course once I left, NOW they were ready to love me and give me the world. But they were too late. My hope was gone.
I have been on the other side of things as well. There have been people that gave me everything, and I took them for granted. Not intentionally. Looking back I guess it was because deep down in my heart, I knew we weren't meant to be together and I wasn't able to open my heart to them and be vulnerable. In some cases, I knew and didn't have the balls to tell them. I didn't want to break their hearts, but in the end I did anyway. In other cases, I didn't know until later. Some of them were really amazing people and I wanted it to work so badly, I was blinded by the fact that it wouldn't.
Now a days...I'm trying to not make any promises I can't keep. I'm not going to tell somebody something they want to hear, if I have no intentions of following through. What is the point of giving somebody hope, when there is none? It may make them feel better in the moment, but when they realized you were lying, the pain is far more severe.
If you expect less from people, that is exactly what you will get. My brother is the perfect example. Do you want to be the person people expect more from or less? Do more.