Monday, July 1, 2013

Failed Expectations

I'm just going to come out and say it. Nothing is more deflating than a failed expectation.

You had high hopes for the calorie-to-taste ratio in that chocolate cake to be astronomically in your favor. You were hoping the mere inhalation of its perfect cubed crumbs would satiate your soul. And then.. you took a big bite out of it and found out it was a dog treat brownie.

So many things in life are like aforementioned doomsday brownie. Buildup, apprehension, illusions and hopes- and then at the apex, a devastating drop from crushing heights. And they apply to many circumstances in life, from movies to vacation, to reconnecting with family from the past . But I am going to focus it on.. ..take a guess.. 

People. 

The problem here is, my whole life I have lived by "Benefit of the Doubt" motto. (Blame the die hard idealist in me) If someone seems like a pesky person, a little catty, a little snippy, maybe a little moody.. well, let's sweep it under the rug. Maybe they're having a bad day. Maybe they're sick or battling some deep emotional war. 

Sometimes I am hardheaded, I do admit. I hold on so tight to a friendship/connection I know is absolutely unproductive and going nowhere fast out of stubborn blind hope that it will make a resurgence. Why do I do this to myself? Psychoanalysis has revealed the following concrete information: I keep hoping the good in you will resurface, because I saw it once, a flash, maybe.. but it was there! Because I don't take failure well. Because I live in a fairy tale world where everything is rainbows and coffee rain. Because I don't understand why people can't just be authentic and nice to one another.

Well. After two decades of the same old baloney and I am retracting the motto. I no longer have the patience and sanity to try to figure you out and give you time to come around, if you ever do. If you have proven yourself time and time again to be intrinsically bitter, irascible, cold, abrasive or just unpleasant, I have no obligation to keep putting myself in the way of such fire. For once, I am going to forgive myself, and stop mulling about it.

Why? Because the compensation is terrible. Here I am doling out caviar on crystal plates while you are using them as dog bowls and eventually, frisbees.(Not sure why there are so many canine references in this post..)  If there are warning signs from the get go, I am collecting those flags and exiting stage right. 

Here is what I have learned, and in hopes that some of you endangered-near-extinct species of kind people save yourselves from the general dilemma that are expectation failures, I have organized them as bullet points, for easy reading, but mainly because I like bullet points.
  • It sounds simple enough, and often repeated, but it has to be stated for truth's sake. Don't get your hopes up. That job, that friend, that dessert may very well be the most palatable, but life dictates that it will usually be bland at best, and terribly unpleasant at worst. Lesson? Stay level. "Nothing terrible or completely amazing will come out of this."
  • Learn to be reserved. No, that doesn't mean be COLD. It means cordial and kind, but not out-of-your-way, every day favor kind of kind, if I do make myself clear. 
  • And last.. learn how to Keep Your Cool..Face. These people have only taken your sleep, your favors, your generosity and a shred of sanity. Don't give them your peace and happiness as well. Learn how to keep your cool, stay calm, and disconnect yourself from those draining emotions.In short, stop caring.. for the things that aren't worth it. This is a tough one, especially for those of us that are naturally loyal and have, you know, those weird strings attached to your heart called feelings? But it's not impossible. Practice makes perfect. And there's nothing like having your liver intact.
  • Don't become cynical. It's all to easy to stroll through Scornful Groves Lane and fall into a bitter remorse rut. Not everything is dark and terrible, not everyone is a wasted effort waiting to happen, not every opportunity is a segue to chaos, even though it may seem that way at times. So strive to keep that balance between reality and idealism. 
Moral of the story: keep your expectations low.. and maybe one fine day, someone/something will blow you out of the water simply by being excellently mediocre. Just.. don't hold your breath.