Friday, 18 March 2016

Managing expectations

This week I've been thinking a lot about expectations. Not just the expectations a person has for themselves but for those around them. The general feeling I've managed to come up with is that we all just need to be nicer; to ourselves, to the people around us. To people we know and those who are just strangers on the street.

I went to visit Lucy on Monday and as I was sat on the monument inside seven dials in London dreaming about the oishii buns I would soon be gorging myself with I had time to do some serious people watching. I had been mean to myself pretty much all morning and I was being less than generous to the people around me. Overhearing parts of phone calls and imagining the most recent domestic they'd had with their partners, judging their choice of lunch when one chap with a (particularly delicious I'll admit) thai green curry sat down next to me, picking on people's clothing, the sound of their voice, the music they were listening to too loudly on their MP3 devices. And then I stopped, I looked up at the glorious blue sky above me with the fireball that had returned temporarily to confuse Londoners on their lunch breaks. I looked at a girl across the street from me hang up her phone call and could see what was the beginnings of tears forming as she hid beneath sunglasses and I thought 'everyone is fighting a war about which you know nothing'. I had been expecting things from people who were deeply at war and I was blaming them for that. Moreover, I was expecting things from myself that I just did not have the energy to provide and I was beating myself up about it repeatedly.

I went back to my first Weight Watchers meeting since October and I had expected my leader to have binned my card. It had been well over the 12 weeks 'lapse' period that leaders are meant to employ. I scoffed to my friend Elspeth, 'we'll see if Sue still believes in me by whether or not my card's still here'. I got to the box of cards and, what a surprise, my card was not in the box. I felt an instant disappointment. I was disappointed in myself, in how far I'd come and how far I was guaranteed to have slipped back. I laughed it off with the receptionist and got to the front of the queue fairly quickly. The first thing I said was 'I wasn't in the box...time for a fresh start I suppose!' I was NOT expecting Sue to turn around and say 'your card is in my car. I just had a feeling today when I was clearing them all out.' With that, she believed in me again. I believed in myself again. Got on the scales and, whilst I HAD gained weight since my last meeting, I'd lost three pounds since I'd last weighed myself. There is plenty to do, there can be no denying that, but sitting in that meeting being reintroduced to people who did not recognise me and being called upon to tell my story to those people I had yet to meet was the catharsis I'd needed. I vented my spleen, I confessed my sins and emerged ready to step up to the challenge ahead of me.

And yet, I still expect too much. Lucy tells me, and she's right of course, that this is because I'm an overachiever. I have always wanted to be the best at something. To be the one who is known for X and I am used to people celebrating my achievements as a result. And recently, I've had to take a step back from that and accept that I am not the best and that that is okay. That it's alright to not have control of my emotions 24/7. That the veneer I'd painted on of having everything together all the time does nothing but cause pain in the long run and that I am incredibly fortunate to have so many people that I can fall back on when I need to be supported. There is no weakness in asking for help. There is no weakness in admitting that everything is not perfect, far from it even.

Learning not to expect too much for myself is going to be a long, hard process. What I can do now is manage my expectations of others. And so, I'm sorry. I'm sorry if I didn't let you in or if I made demands because of my needs, my wants without accepting that that may not be what you needed or that you were giving all that you could at the time. I am sorry that I am selfish and occasionally unkind and that at times I am guilty of being very much blinkered by my own tunnel vision. Going forward, I intend to be very much more forgiving of the individual battles we are all undertaking at any one moment. I promise to be more accepting of my own failings but to stop letting those failings hold me back. Today, I looked down at the arrow tattoo on my wrist and remembered that I have overcome far greater obstacles than the challenges I currently face but that the key to all of those victories was my own positivity, my personal belief that it could be done.

And it can be done.
Everyone is fighting a battle:

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