In Rising Strong, Brene Brown shares how our expectations can set us up for disappointment when the reality turns out to be different from our (sometimes lofty or idealistic) expectations.
This really hit home.
Perhaps it’s the novelist in me. I frequently paint elaborate and dramatic visions of plans, of what I can accomplish in a day, of what a vacation or day trip should look like.
This has hit hardest with having a child. The saturation of parenting/birthing books, articles, blogs, newsfeed, Tweets and Instas create a visualization with glowing edges and sometimes beams streaming from the heavens. Oh, baby’s first ____ will be just amazing and picturesque like this one photo…. (and so on, and so forth.)
I’ve been envisioning Baby’s First Beach Trip along these lines. Oh how we’d stroll through the sand and (empty, serene) beach with the wind blowing my hair and seagulls calling overhead. We’d dip the little baby toes in the water and he’d squeal in delight. We’d laugh and some far away photographer would capture the moment perfectly. (This is what my head came up with — not that it makes any real sense. 😉 )
Here’s a little more about what it looked like:
– Our first two planned “beach trips” were cancelled for various reasons.
– We went during a holiday weekend, knowing it’d be busy, but planning for it.
– It took us an extra half hour to get there with traffic. Thankfully, baby slept the whole way and us adults made a dent in a 64-hour audiobook.
– The beach was packed. Well, for an Oregon beach.
– By the time we made it to the sand, baby, mom and dad were pretty tuckered out.
– I wore baby in a carrier, the diaper bag with my SLR and a 48-ounce Nalgene water bottle bottle weighing me down and straps cutting into my shoulder.
– We got to the water and put his little feet down. I scrambled to get pictures and ended up forgetting to take my tennis shoes off… then the tide came in.
– After a few minutes, we trudged back through the sand and headed to the car. It was nap time.
Not exactly what I expected. My lofty expectations could have very well ruined the day.
BUT… life is awesome.
Here were the amazing things that I didn’t expect or plan for, but delighted beyond belief:
– We had a great time in the aquarium. Seeing baby’s wonder at bubbles in tanks, touching sea anemones, watching the swimming seals – this was worth a thousand toe-dips into the ocean.
– While eating some delicious clam chowder, several kind people next to us shared some super sweet thoughts about babies, life and paid us some dear compliments.
– On our drive home, we stopped at a logging museum/memorial. We explored the large equipment, took goofy pictures, laughed and met more amazing families who encouraged and breathed life into us.
In the midst of the day, I felt a weight of disappointment from the misalignment of reality and expectations. And yet, a change of perspective is all it takes.
Had the day gone perfectly, I might not have appreciated it for all that it really was. But the struggles, the lows, the less-than-ideal moments made for such sweet highs. I’ll need this lesson again and again. And I hope that I take the time to see the different sides.
(And by the end of the day, we’d made a good four-hour dent into our 64-hour audiobook! Wahoo!)
Have you ever had a situation turn a different direction and end up teaching you something new?