Letting Go of (Some) Expectations

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As you enter late teen/early adulthood, you begin to fantasize and plan for what your future will look like. You dig into that invisible backpack we all carry, filled with real-life experiences, culture, generational trauma, biases, motives, etc., to mold and author the picture-perfect idea of what your life should be in 5, 10, or 20 years. You create expectations.

Of course life/the universe/God often laugh in the face of your expectations. What you planned for the future can be completely derailed or altered ever-so slightly to completely change the trajectory of your path. Sometimes, you may get everything you ever hoped for fairytale-style, and sometimes your life is just as The Rolling Stones said – you can’t always get what you want.

  • I expected to go to college and have the time of my life.
  • I expected to get married to the perfect guy reminiscent of a rom-com Prince Charming.
  • I expected to buy a house worthy of my Pinterest board.
  • I expected to have kids (who would never act up in restaurants, curse at me, or behave in any unsavory fashion).
  • I expected to have a lifelong career that always brought me joy.
  • I expected to make the best of friends in college who stuck with me til the very end.
  • I expected to live comfortably, experiencing all life has to offer with my husband and kids.
  • I expected to grow in faith.
  • I expected to love myself.

Well, I’m sure you can agree that life is unexpected—some for the good and some for the bad. Over the years, my goals and plans have morphed, grown, and even dropped off the map completely. They have led to both disappointment and jubilation.

  • I went to college but didn’t have what you’d classify as the “true college experience” and ended up at a school that wasn’t ideal.
  • I did end up marrying MY perfect guy.
  • We bought a house that, like so many others, was meant to be a starter house and has turned into a long-term/constant fixer-upper/we’re-here-until-further-notice home.
  • I have four(!) amazing kids who, spoiler alert, act up in restaurants, curse at me, and sometimes behave in ways that would make my grandmother cringe.
  • I loved my career as a teacher, but as is all too common these days, I left the profession to be a stay-at-home mom (which I also love).
  • I’ve made great friends over the years—some who were only around for a season, some I don’t talk to unless I reach out first, and some whose friendships are still growing!
  • I live comfortably with my family, but there’s also much left to be desired regarding travel, experiences, and everyday wants.
  • I’ve grown in my faith but falter often.
  • I love myself, but some days are harder than others.

In one tough season, I was feeling more of the disappointment. I felt like I was going through the motions; nothing was panning out like it was supposed to, and I had a deep ache for more or different. It was so many little things, too: canceled holidays because of constantly sick kids, no real time to deeply connect with my husband, and feeling like a failure in any sort of career. Everything I expected to happen just wasn’t. Then I stumbled upon a book called Longing for Paris by Sarah Mae. I won’t spoil it, but it discusses finding joy right where you are instead of uprooting your whole life for it to look like what you expected or long for it to look like. I had a complete mindset shift. I knew I had to let go of (some) expectations.

Who cares that my house isn’t multiple thousands of square feet or sparkly clean 24-7. Kids live here, and it functions how I like. I don’t think Architectural Digest will knock on my door anytime soon. Having the privilege of staying home with my kids is fulfilling beyond words, despite having to make sacrifices in other areas of life. The people I surround myself with are here for a reason: they support and love me through thick and thin. I’ve let go of the expectations that friendships are perfect, my walk with God is perfect, and that my life is this far-fetched fairytale of perfection.

I’m continuously maturing. One day, I may be full of regrets for my choices and actually feel like the doo-doo head my four-year-old called me. The next day may be full of love and laughter and living life to the fullest. Every season of life is just that – a season. In every season, I expect to live a life that I can be proud of. I long for my own version of happiness that can happen right where I am. The expectations of a 19-year-old me don’t need to define a 33-year-old me. The story I had authored in my mind all those years ago was through rose-colored glasses. My story is about how to lean into this life that’s evolving outward and inward daily. Through every misstep and every triumph, I’m building part of a bigger picture—a picture that’s cultivated for the life I was always meant to lead. So, while I’ve had to let go of some expectations, my journey in life has gone in ways that I never would have expected, and thank goodness!


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