I’ve always heard that it’s a dangerous thing to place expectations on people. That in doing so, you’re setting yourself up for failure. That when you place an expectation upon people, you will undoubtedly be disappointed.
And I’m starting to think that we’re going about this whole “expectation” thing the wrong way.
We place expectations upon one another as humans. This happens on a daily basis. If you and I are strangers walking towards one another on the street, I expect you not to randomly punch me on the side of my head. If you were to do so, there would be a problem. If you were to do so, the constructs of our society would tell you that such behavior is unacceptable.
If I went to order lunch at a restaurant, there is an expectation that I will speak to the waitress in a respectable manner. There is an expectation that I will not be naked. There is an expectation that I will pay for my meal and not run out of the door and leave the bill.
We expect people not to show up drunk for work. We expect parents to make sure their kids go to school. We expect people not to curse us out on the street. We expect people to pay for goods and services rendered. We expect children not to drive. We expect people not to physically harm each other.
We expect that from one another.
Basic human decency.
At least, I hope we do.
If you were to go on Goodreads and type in expectation quotes, 856 will come up. Eight-hundred-and-fifty-six. And they’re all relating to the same idea — don’t expect things from people, and you won’t be disappointed.
Isn’t that depressing? Isn’t that sad? Isn’t there something in the back of your head that says, Maybe this isn’t how it has to be? Maybe, just maybe, we got it all wrong?
Maybe it’s not about not having expectations. Maybe it’s understanding our next steps when those expectations are not met, and saying, okay, what do we do now?
When we place an expectation upon another, we’re making the relationship deeper. An expectation is the entry point of a conversation, a commitment, a dialogue about what each person in the relationship requires, a starting point for change.
It’s okay to have an expectation. It’s okay to ask for the best from another, and it’s okay for someone else to ask for the best from you, too. Sometimes, those expectations will be met. Sometimes, they will fall short. That ebb and flow is part of life. That journey is part of living.
Expectations are how we learn.
Expectations teach us what we need, what we have to give, how we love, how we hurt, and when it’s time to walk away.