Revising Expectations

It’s funny how your goals change.

When I finished my Master’s degree in 2012, I was excited. I had finally stuck with an educational goal from start to finish, something that I felt I had been lacking since changing majors in undergrad. I was ready to go out into the world and find a job in the industry, using the specialized knowledge I had earned through no small investment of time and money. Looking into the future, I figured I could be a licensed architect by the time I was 30.

These days, I’d be just as happy if I managed to escape my dead-end retail job by that age.

Yes, it’s going to be one of those posts. I’ll try not to come off as too “poor me,” but the development of my pragmatism has not been an easy one for me. Sure, no plan survives contact with reality; but that doesn’t make it hurt any less.

I have always been fairly idealistic. I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. I tend to believe that things will work out alright in the end. By viewing the world through this lens, I often project simple, pure motives onto people and things. After all, it wouldn’t cross my mind to be duplicitous, so why should it cross someone else’s?

Reality, of course, often has different ideas. People can be more dishonest or manipulative than I give them credit for. Sometimes the vagaries of random chance leave you holding the short end of the stick, through no fault of your own. For someone who grasps for the basic good of things, these facts can be hard to internalize. After all, when something goes wrong, is it due to the aforementioned random chance or through some mistake you made? If someone complains about something you did or said, are they looking to merely create drama, or did you commit some major social faux-pas?

But I digress. Let’s get back to expectations.

Throughout the years, I have tried to be better about lowering my expectations. Far too often I’ve had my lofty plans, my hopes and dreams, dashed upon the harsh, unyielding rocks of reality. This inevitably begins to take its toll: the closer you fly to the sun, the further and harder you will fall. I’m starting to realize that high expectations, more often that not, merely set me up for disappointment. That’s not to say that I’m always doom-and-gloom about everything, or that I don’t enjoy things in life. I still hope, I just try to keep it tempered by a certain amount of realism.

Maybe this is just part of growing up. Maybe this is what it feels like to have the last vestiges of chilhood innocence depart. It’s not a good feeling, let me tell you. But I can’t help but hope (heh) that it is for the best, in the long run. Maybe a certain level of psychological resilience is needed to survive in our world, like a callous that protect’s a worker’s hands from the tools of their trade.

Where am I going with this? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me looking at my life and not seeing what I expected to. Maybe it’s me feeling trapped in a job that steals my social time and joie-de-vie from me. Maybe it’s me just feeling particularly sleep-deprived and maudlin. Maybe it’s me having an epiphany. I don’t know. I’m not sure where I expected this entry to go when I started it. But maybe that’s the point I’m trying to make: by keeping your expectations low (or loosely defined), you have a greater chance of meeting them. See? I can do hopeful and uplifting, kinda…

Retail still sucks, though.