Life has thrown us for a loop these last few weeks, with roofers here at all hours, either repairing when the sun is shining, or patching when the rain pours in. With windows on four sides (including the roof) of the room I spend most of my time in, getting time to think, let alone write, has been at a bare minimum. (I escaped for a walk *by myself* yesterday, and it did wonders!)
I’ve been thinking about the psychological power of expectation.
When the roofing crew expect rain in the afternoon, they work on laying plywood and shingles, which they can’t do in the rain, and save the metal work (which they can do whenever) for when the clouds begin to dump. When Craig, our awesome roofing contractor, calls on a rainy evening, wondering if we’ve sprung a leak, I don’t expect him to come unless we’re emptying buckets, but he comes anyway, tarps and caulk in hand.
I knew that I tend to be tidy when a guest in another’s home, but I’ve only just realized that I am tidy in select environments that *I* own or rent, like hotel rooms, or our family home in the UK. I expect myself to maintain order in those environments, so I do.
I’ve always had both internal and external expectations of working hard for good grades, so I have always put in that work. I expect myself to be polite and considerate of others, so I act accordingly.
I have goals, and I have desires, but somehow trying counts when thinking about goals, and I understand that I might, even frequently, be disappointed by thwarted desires. Expectations are either met, or they aren’t.
I remember elementary school report cards, where I was always pleased to “exceed expectations.” It was a set of standards, if arbitrary and perhaps subjective ones, but a standard nonetheless. A goal or desire could be completely unreasonable, but I always trusted that the expectations my teachers had of me were ones that I could meet. Same with my parents’ expectations of me; I might not have liked them, but I knew that I *was* capable of meeting them, provided that I put in the effort. Whether I did or not is a different question…
I don’t feel the need to have the world grade me at almost forty, but I’m wondering if creating a rubric for myself, clearly expressing some expectations for myself, as well as how I’ll be able to tell if I’ve met them, might be of benefit. Not sure how often I’d use it, but knowing it was there might be enough.
I’m also wondering about how my expectations of my children influence their behaviour and attitudes. Certainly, I want my expectations of them to be realistic and appropriate. I also don’t want my expectations to be weight on my childrens’ shoulders. That said, I’ve noticed that since I have started expecting them to pour their own drinks, wash their own faces, get their own clothes, etc, they have been doing it, no questions asked. This is definitely going to bear more thought…