Expectations. Just the word is heavy. It shouldn’t be, but we’ve collectively used the word to shame, guilt, and find justification for hurt feelings or disappointment:
I expect more from you…
It wasn’t what I expected…
I just expected them to…
Having expectations hanging over my head is an anxiety-inducing feeling for me, and many people I know. If you look at quotes about expectations, the overwhelming majority lean towards the idea of lowering expectations, however, there are a few rogue ones out there too touting the benefits of high expectations. I think the latter is bullshit. Expectations are generally just future disappointments, so why not change the narrative using this quote?
If we take the suggestion offered to trade our expectation for appreciation what does that look like? For us, it was turning an incorrectly reviewed hike on the hottest, smokiest day of the year into an adventure. Even though things were not going according to plan we saw the day as an opportunity to take photos and revel in nature. We also saw a chance to push ourselves physically on the hike so we could just go play at the beach already!
We thought we were being smart, planning a morning coastal hike in Jenner, CA. Nearly any other weekend of the year it would have been great weather, but it was fucking hot. Not unbearable because of the early morning start time, but still – too damn hot. The smoke in the air from the bajillion California wildfires hung in the air on the drive to and from, but it was clearer by the ocean without a doubt.
The review on All Trails showed pictures of the ocean and promised a view, but the Pygmy Forest Trail didn’t deliver. It wasn’t a boring hike, but it was nothing compared to the Lake Winnemucca Hike we had done the week before (photo blog coming soon – all the wildflowers you guys!). Lake Winnemucca set the bar really high. And the ocean photos from the review online set the bar even higher, high enough that we were willing to drive 3 hours to the trailhead. We were primed for disappointment with unspoken expectations.
Now Holly and I have a REAL relationship. Real talk is our thing and we happen to be really good at sharing with each other. Halfway through the trail, we opened up:
Holly: So this wasn’t what I expected.
Me: Same, where is the fucking ocean?
Me: I’m glad we are here together. This would be boring alone.
Holly: Same, but where is the fucking ocean?
Me: Right? We are going to the ocean today, dammit.
The shenanigans continued, but please know we had fun anyway. We lost our way on the trail into bug-infested areas more than once, we sweated so much in the heat, Holly got a gnarly double bee sting, I peed all over myself trying to use a GoGirl at the ocean behind some rocks, and it took an extra hour to get home. It would have been so easy to call the day a failure. What we chose to reflect on during that long four-hour traffic ridden drive was that we got in a five-mile hike, enjoyed our delicious trail snacks, played at the ocean, pet dogs, took photos, and were privileged enough to be able to spend a Friday on the hottest weekend of the year outside in nature. We talked about what we learned. We talked about other areas in our lives where we have had unreal expectations or felt like unreal expectations were placed on us.
We were in the moment the entire time. Appreciating the fact that we got to be where we were. The quickest way to diffuse the disappointment from expectations is to find what is good. Chances are you have it better than millions of other people on this planet. Right now you have the internet….and some people don’t. Opportunities for gratitude are everywhere.
What do you do when things don’t go as planned? Have you ever tried lowering expectations? Tell us in the comments!
Gossip Girl (Just kidding, it’s Kathryn)