Sunday, October 28, 2012

Expectations Moment

What has exceeded your expectations lately? What do you do to exceed expectations? I have been contemplating this for nearly a week and have discovered that expectations are changeable and relative. Expectations are completely contingent upon standards and past experiences. I believe that disappointment is a natural part of life, and can help to shape expectations, as well as form standards. Expecting the worst can ensure that expectations are exceeded, but it's pessimistic and unrealistic and not my style.  It's also very hard to live always expecting the worst. The best experiences have been the ones entered into with no true concept of what's to come.

Earlier this week, we went to a performance by Evelyn's school at the Civic Center in Greeley. Every year they put together a themed exhibition for friends, family and the open public. This year it was the 3rd, 4th & 5th graders along with the staff, singing, dancing and doing a 10 year review called "Chappelow Goes to Pieces". We went to support the school as well as to get an idea of what it would be like for her in the near future. We had very little idea of what it was like and no interest in setting expectations. The Civic Center was so full when we got there that we had to sit in the balcony section and situated ourselves toward the stage, hoping to see anything.  As the lights went down and the curtain went up, we could see enough, but it was what we heard. It was so quality. It started with Rock 'n Roll, showcased Motown, and even did a tribute to the Godfather. Not only was the music well orchestrated, but Chappelow has a phenomenal Deaf and Hard of Hearing program that blew us away. The interpreters were as spirited as the child performers. The staff, including the principal, did a Broadway medley, with choreography. They call themselves the Off-Keys, but they were far from it. We were floored. It felt great when we left the show, validated that we had made the right choice by switching Evelyn's school. We began with no expectations.

Entering into any situation expecting perfection guarantees disappointment, as expectations will never be met. Nothing will ever meet the standards set by perfection. I have begun taking in every situation with no other intention than to get the most out of it, good or bad.  When you put pressure on life experiences to live up to inflated expectations, resentment and discontent breeds. We choose the perception of the situation and can change the outcome based on what we need it to be. We don't have a choice in what others do or how they present, but we choose how to view it and how to feel about it.

When I try a new recipe, I look at the ingredients individually and assess how they might work together, but I have no idea what to truly expect. I find that expecting each recipe, just by sizing up the ingredients, to be incredible, I am often let down. My favorite recipes are the simplest, that are attempted under no duress. Each ingredient works together to create the experience by reacting to the others in its way. Some ingredients are unpredictable and can alter the experience. Once it becomes a past experience, the expectations will be more realistic.

When we visit a place for the first time, it's difficult not to have preconceived notions. Often we are attending because of a recommendation, or a review that struck an interest. It is difficult to remove the emotional response based on expectations and standards. It's a tough practice to walk in and just see without needing the environment to answer some unspoken question. We went to a trail head last weekend and it was difficult for me to remove the disappointment I felt about what we encountered. The place itself was pleasant, quiet and interesting, but I needed it to be something more, which I couldn't describe. It took my daughter's enthusiasm about how much her expectations were being exceeded to snap me out of my disenchantment. It ended up being lovely once I lowered my expectations.

I will never achieve perfection, a fact that I am very comfortable with. You are what you make yourself, and I realized that I have no interest in being perfect. I cannot live up to that expectation and I don't want to be experienced as disappointing. On the other side of that coin, I do not strive to set myself at a low standard either.  I am comfortable with who I am inherently, and in being so, it is easier to try to exceed others' expectations. I know what the expectations of me are, so I can be better than that often. It's easy to give a little extra when you know where you stand. I will never be less kind, diligent or ambitious. I will never give my family less than all, and I am always trying to better myself.

My children are consistently exceeding my expectations because I don't need them to be much. I definitely have high standards for their behavior, but they surprise and inspire me with their constant over achieving. I have never sat and poured over letters, but they both read before preschool. I have never drilled numbers, but they play their games involving math. I expect them to be interested, but I never expect them to be as in tuned with the universe as they are. 

As we create who we are, we have the choice to set the standard of living. Other people will undeniably have their expectations of who we are, but we have the option of proving them right or wrong. I'm not advocating for low standards, but I am a proponent of just "being" and letting life exceed expectations.  I wouldn't encourage being a stunted personality, but leave room for surprising people. Experiences are shaped by standards and expectations, meaning that we have control over how we perceive what happens in our lives. It is none of our business how others view us, but we can create how we want to be viewed. I choose to exceed expectations.

Moment of Design Captured...

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