Expectations about life can really trip you up. I tend to have lots of expectation about how events will go, how doing different things will make me feel (getting married, buying a house, having a baby, etc.). It’s hard not to picture what life will be like down the road–how this or that will turn out. But the problem with expectations is, they often lead to disappointment.

If I picture something a certain way and it doesn’t end up turning out as I imagined, bam, I’m disappointed. Rather than just letting life happen organically and enjoying each moment one step at a time as it is, I run around frantically trying to make things unfold as I pictured them–and when they don’t, I think something is wrong just because it’s not what I imagined.

Even worse than the expectations I build up in my own head are the expectations other people put in my head. We’re probably all guilty of it–of projecting our own feelings and experiences onto the feelings and experiences of other people. We tell the soon-to-be-bride, “Oh, when you walk down the aisle and see him standing there, you’re going to feel such-and-such.” What this actually means is when I walked down the aisle and saw him standing there I felt such and such–who knows what you’ll feel and who says you have to feel the same way I did anyway?

An example I hear a lot right now is, “when you have a baby of your own and you’re finally holding that little bundle in your arms, it will be like this.” This is all fine and well, people of course mean no harm, but the problem is, what if I think I’m supposed to feel a certain way when I hold my own baby and, well–I just don’t? If I get in my head that this experience is supposed to unfold just so and make me feel just a certain way, I might be disappointed or think something is wrong when those feelings aren’t there. Instead of soaking up and enjoying an experience and letting the thoughts and feeling come as they may, I end up missing out on the unique beauty of that moment by stressing about not feeling “right.”

I expect when I do hold a child of my own, it will be overwhelming, like no other experience I’ve ever had, and perhaps I’ll get emotional or feel things I’ve never felt before. But I don’t know that and I don’t want to get there and be disappointed about not feeling what I expected. I don’t want to distract myself from such a special moment by worrying about conjuring up a specific feeling or emotional response. After all, I’m not a crier. I’ve never shed a tear at any major event in my life–graduating from college, thrilling but no tears. Getting married—amazing, but no tears. Actually the closest I’ve ever come to tears of joy was when I got Freshly Pressed, haha! So, who knows and who cares? Let life happen as it may. Set aside expectations and feel things for yourself, as they are, whatever that may mean. Don’t assume something is “wrong” just because it’s not what you expected or not the way other people told you it would be.

*With all this talk about holding babies, I would just like to clarify that I’m not pregnant or planning on getting pregnant. But since this is probably the next major event in my life and all my friends are doing it, I hear about it a lot right now and do think about what that bundle will feel like in my arms :]