Sunday, September 4, 2011

Great Expectations, or Expectations of Greatness?

When I wake up and my husband is away on a trip I get up with ease and take care of the kids, no matter how early or how tired I am. I may be groggy or wishing for a few extra moments of sleep, but I'm generally resigned and content in doing what I need to do.

When my husband's home and it's the weekend and I've gotten up early for days in a row, I approach the dawn with an entirely different outlook. I'm tired, I want to sleep in, I can barely raise my head off the bed, and I am crabby. Why? What's the difference shifting that morning wake up from contented to discontent?

It's expectations.

In life there are so many instances where what we are told to expect affects our outlook. A situation we would normally accept can turn into unacceptable in an instant if society tells us we deserve something better.

The world just keeps raising the bar and at some point we won't be able to keep up. We have luxuries beyond what could have been imagined 100 years ago, and yet we are restless and discontent, always striving for that something more.

Expectations can drive us forward in innovative and beneficial ways. They spur on development, inventiveness, and achievement. They take mankind from the cave of ignorance to the great towers of knowledge.

However, expectations can also tear us down as individuals, crippling us with a feverish discontentment that turns us bitter with greed and vanity. Suddenly we believe everything we are told we deserve, everything we must posses, every way we should be treated. We stop being an integral part of our own destiny and blame the world for things that never fall at our feet.

The characters of my latest WIP are dealing with expectations and the discontentment they can create. They've been taught by society to expect it all, because they deserve it all, but they might lose out on something very real and life altering if they buy into the promises that no one can deliver.

My characters have me thinking a lot about my expectations and how I let them shape my mood, alter my attitude and eventually control the amount of joy in my life.

Do I have great expectations that will inspire me to discover great things, or do I have expectations of greatness which will never be achievable and lead only to a bitter unrest?

Do expectations drive you forward or hold you down?

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