Several years ago I heard a crash, followed by a screech, then the thunderous whoosh of shattering glass.
Have you ever sprawled on the grass on your back and watched the clouds? My friends and I would do this during warm summer days. We’d imagine all kinds of things were in those clouds; the more audacious the better. Then our dreaming would turn to what we would be when we grew up. Dreams of vocation, lifestyle, where we’d live – all brilliant and filled with hope. As we soaked in the sunshine fully relaxed on our grassy bed, nothing was impossible.
Life luminous with extraordinary possibilities.
Back to the crash.
“Your perfect world doesn’t exist,” the counselor said.
And I heard my world crashing, screeching, crumbling around me with such force it sucked the air out of the room.
My perfect world didn’t exist. And never would. All my unmet, and often false, expectations needed to be faced. In order to live a healthy fulfilling life, I had to choose to step out of the perfect world I’d built in my mind and step into the reality of my life. I had a choice.
What do we do when our expectations are unmet?
- Identify the unmet expectation(s). Name them. What exactly is it that hasn’t been met? We can’t deal with reality when we don’t name what we are missing.
- Grieve the loss. Whenever an expectation of any sort is unmet, there is a sense of loss. With loss comes grief. To achieve equilibrium we need to name the loss and then deal with the emotional fallout. Denying the sense of loss only compounds the issue and shuts down our dreams. Grief is a healthy, normal aspect of life.
- Refocus our reality and our dreams. Expectations can be good. It is good to dream of the possibilities. It is good to realign our thoughts with our present life. It is good to realize that while your dream may not be right now, it is possible.
Not all unmet expectations shatter your world. But some do. And when they do, it’s important to stop, recognize what is happening, grieve it, and then refocus.
Do you need to stop today to deal with an unmet expectation? If so, I hope you’ll take the time to do exactly that.
Then, dream again.