Fun fact, my husband is an avid podcast connoisseur. He’s got a diverse palate of interests, much of which he was able to pursue during his work-related travels. During our shared car rides, he’s slowly gotten me hooked on a few shows, one in particular is titled ‘Dear Therapist’. It captures the dialogue of two well-known therapists and their pursuits of literal therapizing with a real life human. It’s captivating, regardless of one’s profession.
Over this past weekend during one of our mini adventures, we listened to a woman’s experiences with her childbearing journey. As we listened along, I couldn’t help but pick up on the theme of idealistic expectations this woman seemed to have woven within her narrative. From having a detail-saturated birthing plan, to expecting nothing but experiencing labor all-natural, to “breast is best”, to hyper focused tunnel vision of wanting four children to seek fulfillment. It was exhausting to listen to.
How often do we get sidetracked by our idealistic expectations that we forget to invest in the hear-and-now of realistic expectations?
More often than not, it’s an unhelpful amount of the time.
I mean systemically, it’s easy to get caught up in the pursuit of ‘ideals’. We grow up mesmerized by Disney-inspired fairy tales of dreamy characters and happy endings. Media is dedicated to the portrayal of easily attainable ‘ideals’ from parenting, to Halloween costumes, to food prep. Social media rarely embraces the humanness of others, so we are surrounded by mostly happy or successful moments.
It’s quite easy to forget we are human beings.
While idealistic ideas have their perks, realistic expectations leave room for our humanness. Here, there’s freedom to flex when life has its unpredictable splash, when our personhood shows its vulnerability, and when the “mold” is not the best fit. Realism grants permission for outcomes that are an individual kind of turnout, while leaving room for acceptance and peace. When we get caught up in the idealistic ways of thinking, suddenly this line of thought can bleed into the lens of which we experience our worlds. Rarely is anything “enough” when we are fixated on the ideals.
I want to encourage you (and myself) to routinely take a step back and reexamine the expectations that color our experiences. Leave the idealistic ways of being to the Disney princesses and celebrate the multidimensional soul that we are. Leave room for the messy, the unplanned, and the rough edges by adjusting those pesky expectations to ebb and flow that follow the melodies of living an authentic life.