Tuesday, April 27, 2010

v2, d49: Expectations

(After-post edit: I always hate it when people type "We" when they really mean "I", and I now realize that's exactly what I did with this post. I apologize if you are not reflected in any of the following "We"'s and feel you have been unfaithfully projected into my own observation)

(After-post edit 2: I never re-read these things after I write them. I hope this makes sense)

Let's face it, we all have expectations for one another. We all have the potential to disappoint one another. We expect this guy to come through when given an assignment. We expect this other one to phone it in from time to time. We expect Woman A to get excited about a certain piece of news, and we expect Woman B to be disappointed. We think he'll most likely cry when he hears News X, we think she'll hate us when she finds out Object Y. We have a pretty good idea which of friends are going to be okay and which ones are going to get into trouble sooner or later.

And let's be honest: most of the time, we can be right about Person X and Person Y. We know she's not going to do anything dumb, because she's a smart girl. We know he's going to louse everything up, because he always has. We know they're going to get mad at each other, even if they don't yet. The people we're closest to rarely surprise us.

And then sometimes they do, and when it's a nice surprise we're not embarrassed by our lack of foresight; we simply rejoice in the delight of the surprise and have a great laugh about it later. But when the surprise lies on the other end of the spectrum, sometimes we can't help but feel a little betrayed. Sometimes even a little guilty.

"I should have seen this coming." "How could he/she have done this? He/she's not that kind of person?" It's a fairly significant shift in our worldview, at least on a personal level. "I thought he was a GOOD guy." "I thought she was a SMART girl." "I thought we could trust them!" As though the fact that they caught us by surprise with a bit of foolish judgment changes everything we thought we knew about our dear friend to begin with.

Look, it's impossible to avoid expectations. I give you ice cream, I expect you to be happy. I run over your dog, I expect you to be mad at me. There are very few situations in which I don't have an inkling of what you'll do when presented with a specific set of circumstances. And thus, it's impossible to avoid disappointment. When disappointment happens, though, I think it's important not to overreact. We weren't all wrong about our friend, our sister, our parent, our colleague, whoever let us down. Rather, I think it's important to let such events serve to remind us that all of the people we've pegged into certain holes in our minds--the Smart People, the Generous People, the Strong People, the Irresponsible People, the Sarcastic People--are, first and foremost, People. And people you can love. Expectations, not so much.


(After-post edit #3: For some lighter fare, this is pretty bizarre. Gotta love the playoffs)