In college, I made a weird experiment.
I told one friend that I had a kid but not yet married. My story spread like wildfire. I was then known as the “Young Father”.
It took quite some time for me to acknowledge my mistake and clean my name.
Years passed. Right after my graduation. I told one company that I’m flexible and hard working. So they hired me as a Call Center Agent.
I learned a lot, but unfortunately I was too incompetent to handle the pressure. It was terrible (and I got sick). But that didn’t took me long to own my mistake — I resigned after a month.
Expectations vs. Reality
Yes, it’s a cliché. I even wrote about it in the past: “Happiness and Success: Why You Need to Lower Your Expectations”
But here’s the surprising truth about clichés: Most of them are true.
I couldn’t count the times I was disappointed because of my high expectations. It sucks. In retrospect, I realize it was a life-changing experience.
Also, I realize that it’s not just me — almost every adult I met has their own “expectations vs. reality” experience. So now I’m safe to say… it’s normal, right?
So where do expectations come from?
2 (Possible) Sources of Expectations
- We make our expectations based on our ideal result.
- Someone impose their expectations on us (and we allow them). Or we impose our expectations on others.
Source #1 is self-explanatory. This often leads to “expectations vs. reality” disappointments.
Source #2 is when we let our parents, or friends, or society decide what they want us to do or become. Or it could be the other way — we are the ones who decide what our friends, kids, spouse, or other people should do or become.
How to Avoid Others from Expecting from You
Over the years, I learned that one way to avoid others expecting from me is not to say something that would make them set high expectations.
For example: Remember my college story where I told someone I already had a kid? Because of that, they expected that I should be a good father to my kid. And I should not commit another mistake again; I should stop flirting with ladies and partying and doing teenager stuff.
This made me laugh. What an idiot.
Another example: Remember that story when I told one company that I’m flexible and hard working? They expected me to be like that. But I failed (maybe I wasn’t that flexible that time). Of course, I learned from that experience. But I could have prevented it by just telling them the truth (although that time, I wasn’t sure whether or not I know the truth about my own capabilities).
There’s no right or wrong, I guess. Because I wouldn’t be able to learn vital things in life had I not made mistakes. I’m glad that those are not catastrophic mistakes though.
So here’s the lesson: Be careful what you tell others about who you are or what you can do. Because what you’ll say to them will be the basis of their expectations on you.
Instead, tell the truth about who you are and what you’re capable of. I think that is way much better and less stressful.
And isn’t that liberating?