Lowering Your Expectations

I was once having lunch with a co-worker, and I started complaining about the service. She looked at me, and said that I seriously needed to lower my expectations. After all, she commented, what did I expect for fast food? I thought about what she said and realized that she was right. I did need to lower my expectations as far as the quality and service were concerned regarding fast food. It was fast food; the people working in fast food were being paid minimum wage or slightly above. It was not haute cuisine. There were no linen napkins. The tables were made out of plastic, as were the cups. I needed to get real.

I was reminded of my exceedingly high expectations regarding many things in life just this morning by my husband when I went online to check the status of our refund from the IRS, and the site informed me that we could expect our refund around April 1, which was not soon enough for me. His comment was exactly the same as Colleen’s, that I needed to lower my expectations. This made me pause. Was I going through life with such high expectations just because I thought that things should work as the ads claimed they would? As the declarations stated that they would? Was I living in some kind of fantasy world in which life was a glossy advertisement?

Now, if you have ever seen the recent state of my house, you would find this last statement absolutely hilarious because we have been in a state of “redoing” the house for about four years now, which means that nothing is where it should be, and the last thing my house looks like is a page out of a magazine, but I can fantasize, can’t I? Some women fantasize about gorgeous men. I fantasize about a clean, clutter-free house in which I have hardwood floors and kitchen cabinets that actually work. Oooooh. Aaaaah. I can smell the lemon wax. I feel faint. But I digress.

Back to expectations. I think it has something to do with the old golden rule thing. You know the one–do unto others. I won’t spit on your cheeseburger if you won’t spit on mine, to put it into terms more worldly, or earthly. I suppose it comes down to saying simple things like “please” and “thank you” instead of “whatever,” or expecting people not to have loud conversations on their cell phones in movie theaters after just spending $40 on tickets and two sodas. I think that my family is always concerned that I am going to say things to rude people because I have no patience with rude or stupid, and the reality is that on occasion, I have been known to make comments when perhaps silence may have been the option voted for by the majority. But then, I have never been known for my willingness to go with the flow.

But it’s also a matter of treating other people the same as you wish to be treated. If that way is with respect and courtesy, then you should show ample amounts of respect and courtesy in your dealings with other individuals. That’s usually how it works, or rather should work, but not always. Let’s take the fast food example. These are people who are not making a great deal of money. Does that mean that they should not be treated with a great deal of respect? Some people act that way. Some people in our society, quite a few actually, equate how you treat an individual with how much money that person earns or how that person dresses or what kind of car that person drives, or the color of that person’s skin, or what kind of accent that person has.

We haven’t always had the money to buy our children the right labels for their clothes and shoes. In fact, I make it a point to buy things on sale or at TJMaxx or Marshall’s, simply because I find it ridiculous to pay full price even when I can afford it. What is the point? The point is that I am neither better nor worse than the next person. I think that my expectations are high about the right things. Not about clothes or cars or money. But about respect for yourself and others, and honor, and keeping your word, and doing the right thing when the time comes. I expect my children to try to do their best and to treat others well. They don’t have to be Rhodes’ scholars, nor do they have to be doctors or lawyers or even college graduates. As long as they are happy within themselves, they try to have kind hearts, and they are good to the other people in their lives, then they can be proud of themselves. That is all that any parent should want.

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