Having high hopes has always been one of my specialties. A lot of the time, I put my dreams on a pedestal and set my goals for certain areas of my life to immensely high levels. Or for a lack of better words, unrealistic levels.
People around me have often told me about their admiration for this quality that I tend to have a love and hate relationship with.
“I love that you never settle,” my friends tell me. “You know exactly what you want and won’t ever accept any less.”
But what if that’s the issue? That I’ll never settle. What if I am never able to accept anything because I will always expect more?
In my mind, these words people say to me process differently. Their words sound more along the lines of: “You never find anything good enough to accept,” my brain says. “You know exactly what you want but realistically, it doesn’t exist, therefore you won’t ever accept anything.”
Because how does one find what they want if what they want doesn’t seem to exist?
I don’t think a lot of people understand how much of a curse high expectations can be because of the respect most have towards people who never just settle for the bare minimum.
The feelings that go along with having high expectations are complex and complicated. Part of me feels proud and honored to know that I search out great things. Great careers. Great partners. Great life goals. Yet the other half of me is absolutely terrified because I fear that my hopes are so high that no staircase or ladder could possibly be tall enough to reach them, leaving me constantly disappointed.
Half of the time, I am convinced that I tell myself to find wrongs in things that are without flaw just so I don’t have to worry about being let down later. If I can find something wrong early enough, or even convince myself of something that is less than, I can get out before it’s too late.
Hypothetically speaking, if we consider a lifetime of happiness and “success” to be based on our achievements and what we gain in our lifespan, how does that person whose goals and expectations are exceedingly high and nearly impossible to reach become happy?
Let me explain this in more visual and simpler terms.
A few months ago, I was talking to this guy. He was attractive, kind, funny, intelligent and considerate. He was a good guy, a somewhat miracle compared to other men I had talked to in my past. He made me feel happy and confident in myself. However, I remember the night I fought back tears and the lump in my throat as I looked this man in the eyes and told him, “I can’t do this.”
I searched every corner of my heart and mind to give him an acceptable reason. I owed him that much, an explanation as to why I had to let go of someone who made me feel important. Yet I couldn’t find one.
The only explanation I could offer to him was the numbing fact that I was afraid to settle. I was terrified to let myself be with someone because I felt that as good as he was, I could do better.
How do you look someone in the eye who is seemingly everything you had wanted and explain to them that you can’t be with them because you think you deserve or could find better? How do you look perfection in the eye and say you want more?
It’s like I have this sense of doubt of never finding what I want rooted in my mind and it grows like a plant that is living in saturated soil under a sunny sky and is fertilized with the finest treatments of fear of settling and worry that what I want is nonexistent.
So does this ruin me? Do my high expectations put a dent in what I achieve and get in life?
The answer? I’m not sure.
Because on one hand, I know that it is a struggle. It is hard knowing that a part of my brain will always be continuously testing and questioning every aspect of my life, asking: Is this good enough? I understand that everything will be pushed to a limit.
I will doubt and question validity in people, jobs, and myself. I will spend hours on end wondering why I can’t seem to find that “a-ha” moment. That moment where you see that what I want and need is right in front of me and it is good will most likely never happen for me because I spend so much time reckoning and searching for more and more.
I don’t like to believe that it is because I am selfish that my expectations are somewhat unrealistic. Yes, some people may see me as that. However, in my eyes, my expectations are unrealistic because it is what I am worthy of.
I want things that challenge my expectations and go far beyond them. Whatever I find shouldn’t spill that sense of fine-lined doubt into me, it should exceed any question that could possibly weave its way into my mind. A partner who not only meets the requirements, but plus some. A career that doesn’t only financially support me but allows me to love what I do and enjoy where I work. A life that I can look back on and say, “Not only did I succeed, but I took it into my own hands and conquered it.”
Expectations are merely an outline for what you actually deserve. So if that is the case, what is the harm in having high ones? You can stray from the outline, you can improvise from the script, as long as the plot is clearly captured.