Expectations can sure get us into a lot of trouble, can’t they? If you have any doubts, look no further than yours truly. I have spent most of my life expecting way too much and sorting out the consequences later. It’s not as if I don’t know what I’m setting myself up for, because I usually do, but for whatever inherent reason I still take that detour. I’m always full of good intentions. I set out with a decent enough plan, a highlighted map through the back roads, and yet somehow my navigation skills just don’t seem to add up most of the time. My own eagerness, expectancy, presumptions and conjecture seem to always land me in the deep end of the ocean. I should be used to it by now. I surely should have learned to keep an inflatable life vest in my back pocket, that’s for certain. Yet to my own surprise I’m usually flopping around, treading water, drowning in a sea of self-doubt. I’m a walking contradiction, a beautiful if not deafening complicated mess. I’m assuredly a complex, intricate, tangled up, tricky, thorny, tortuous labyrinth of a woman. I can barely navigate myself through this impenetrable maze of perplexing wonders, much less my husband! Let’s face it; I can’t always understand myself so how is it again I expect anyone else to?
I’m really not sure where this crazy, hair brained idea of perfection comes from, as if we can actually buy the Brooklyn Bridge. Yet we try anyway, bartering our way through, all on our own, falling for the age old get rich quick, lose weight fast schemes hook line and sinker. We set expectations for ourselves no one in their right mind could ever truly expect to obtain. All based upon what, some kind of cockamamie fairytale cookie cutter depiction of a happily ever after? Maybe a few, small select folks can actually get their happy ending this way, but if you're like me, an average Jane just trying to get through life, those story book endings aren't in the cards without hard work. Let’s just say if they were, I wouldn’t be up at 2 am in the morning, staring down blank pages, trying to make sense of them!
So let’s be honest, life many times can be just as confusing as it is charming. Life lesson #37, expectations can be a royal pain in the butt!
Forest Gump says, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” If we’d simply apply this lesson, we’d be a whole lot happier. Self –discovery, finding our way, who we are, where we are going and yes who we really want to be when we grow up is exactly as Forrest says. If you would had told me I’d lose my breast at 32, muddle my way through menopause at 33 or be starting over again and re-inventing myself at 41, I’d have laughed at you. But that is exactly my story and just like a box of chocolates, life has surprised me around every corner.
Some folks look at my life and think, man she’s got it all together while others judge and smirk, not wanting any part of my existence at all. The reality is my life is so far from perfect it's not scary, it’s a rocky horror show no doubt about it. Till this day I fight more inner demons than most know. Some days they run me, throw me up against a wall and completely strip me of everything good in my life. Other days, I get a hold of the bull’s horns and ride those 8 seconds like nobody’s business! Set backs, well they are just part of my daily routine. I believe we all have these grand ideas and while well intentioned as they are end up beating us up in the process. I don’t know about you but my life is anything but a straight line. It’s been honestly difficult, not just in my trails or health problems, because truthfully those are a piece of cake compared to my internal demons. Being, and feeling accepted, as “good enough”, loved with all my flaws has truly been one of my greatest battles.
When everything else is removed, there has and will always be two issues in my life. The first is absolutely hands down in how I see myself, my body image and the way I look physically. I’ve always found fault in myself, an inadequacy in my appearance, my brain smarts and charm. People have either loved me or hated me, there has never been much in-between. At the end of the day my mental and emotional struggle is feeling inferior. The second, it’s a close race but knowing what you do now should come as no surprise is found in my love life. I was always looking for the perfect relationship which, I learned quickly was not out there. I fought a large scale battle within myself of self-worth and self-loathing, never feeling I was worth the effort. I always wanted to be prettier, skinnier and funnier because those superficial attributes obviously brought happiness. Boy did I have heartache coming!
I’ve never had a whole lot of self-confidence, so you can imagine how this has played out for me over the years. I’m sure many of you can relate. When you feel less than everyone else in the room, more like a wall flower at the ball, lacking in smarts, physical appearance, and overall cultural hype defining beauty and intelligence you simply tend to accept the lie you’re not worth the salt in anyone’s tears. See I was the kid who got punched in the stomach for giving a neighborhood kid’s dog diabetes simply because I decided to touch his pet in my own yard. Or the girl who was teased and taunted to the point of tears when the teacher left the room because of my diabetes, then blamed by the teacher for the disruption. Or better yet picked on and played by the mean girls back before those words were common place. I guess I was one of the original Duff’s. It is no wonder till this day I still have self-esteem issues, but what I have come to realize is we all do, the mean girls included.
I’ve always had to dig deep, finding my strength and the ability to see myself through my Father’s eyes. I have faced coming in second all my life, being the runner up or not even placing on the winners pedestal at all. It’s such a part of my routine now; I don’t think I’d know how to deal with first place. I still battle the idea someone is always better suited, more accomplished and of course every other form of worthy than I am. The struggle is real, and one I face each and every day whether it’s in my job, my social life or quite honestly in my marriage and I know I’m not alone in this. I think it comes down to an idea we hold ourselves too. If we can only be younger, older, taller, more petite, slimmer, have a full figure, be a blond, a brunette, a red head, have long hair, short hair, curly hair, straight hair, be athletic, smart and so on we would arrive, feeling worthy. We hold ourselves to these unrealistic expectations to the point of our own total destruction. If we think we can control the filters others choose when they look at us, as an anonymous quote I recently read said, then we’re barking up the wrong tree. We can’t have these major life altering foundation changes without a complete overhaul. For that matter we have to accept and realize we can’t change what’s going on outwardly until we start changing what’s going on within us. It’s just a fundamental truth.
The bottom line is this: everybody is searching for something. Just take a look at how we as a society view our bodies or our spouses? It’s this very reason so many marriages face so much destruction today; we destroy ourselves from the inside out and then wonder what happened. We never have enough; we always want more, something new, something different, and something borrowed. Nothing is ever enough but no one has it all despite feeble attempts to prove otherwise. Remember this when you start to feel inadequate. It’s one thing to strive for a better life, to be a better person or want to be the best version of yourself possible but it's a completely different thing to lose yourself, to keep replacing your life with counterfeit imitations of yourself. When it comes down to it, you can’t let hurt, expectations, the un-forgiveness of yourself, or this idea of who you should have been define you. You are you, and the only you there is, don’t take yourself for granted. Let go of those impossible expectations, the far-fetched idea that the grass is greener on the other side and trust God has a perfect design for your life, for your family, your marriage, for you and begin fighting for it.
Note to self: I am enough.