Expectations, Goals & Failure

Hello All my Dear Readers,

I apologize for my absence, should you have noticed it. There are no good reasons, just a bunch of unfinished posts that went nowhere and only reiterated thoughts I had already written. I think I may have had some thoughts worth reading this evening, so here is another ill-conceived attempt at finishing and posting something worthwhile and new. Hopefully it has been worth the wait!

I have been thinking a lot lately about expectations and the difference between dashed hopes and ‘modifying goals’. (or failing in not-so-positive language) I guess I have always wondered what the difference between goals and expectations are…  I mean, expectations are what you hope for, or anticipate to happen and goals are desirable achievements you put conscious effort toward in anticipation and hope of accomplishing. Interestingly, expectation is from Latin meaning ‘an awaiting’ whereas goal is from old English meaning ‘boundary or limit’ (according to Dictionary.com I know, I know. I should have used the OED)  I find it kind of ironic that a word that originated as ‘boundary’ has come to mean actively working towards something more and ‘awaiting’ has come to mean anticipate. Notice how the buzz word goal is actually kind of confining in nature and how expectations usually leave you wanting more or perpetually awaiting the fulfillment of your vision? Enough with actual definitions of words, let get on to what I actually have been thinking about.

How Appropriate! 😛 Joking!!

Expectations and goals alike have been somewhat of my enemy lately and it has left me feeling aimless and adrift. Throughout this injury every single expectation my doctors, physio or myself had has been wrong, and every time I hope to be better in three months, or six months it seems to keep stretching longer and longer. But it is even bigger than that. Last summer I turned 25 and it was by far the hardest birthday I have ever had. I dreaded it for weeks because I didn’t feel like I was ‘enough’ to be a twenty-five year old… My expectations of myself had not come to pass and that really shook me.

When I think back to where I thought I would be at twenty-five, although I never had it all planned out, I did see myself with at least a good job and a little extra money. I though I might be married, but I would at least have a really place to call home and I would be confident and happy. I don’t think I have one single thing on that list. Maybe this is a life lesson, maybe it is something everyone realizes at some point and I just realized it at a really bad time… I have realized that life is turbulent, despite the amount of work you put in (and I do believe you have to put a lot in to get some back) you are not always going to end up on top. That sounds so sad to me. I used to truly believe it you work hard, eventually it will all work out, but here I am at twenty-five, I worked so hard I irreparably hurt my back. I am behind in life, and my goals are non-existent. How can you have goals  when you aren’t sure you will be able to really get up refreshed in the morning, when you can’t remember the last time you woke up refreshed. despite the loss of my goals, expectations still niggle at me.

I expect to be done with this soon, when I am going to require a life long, regular fitness routine to maintain my core. I expect to start feeling a lot better soon, when my track record says I won’t. I expect my life to go right back to normal when I am better and I expect my relationship just to bounce back when I am better, when it will take a lot of hard work, and hard conversations. I expect passion, desire and effort. I expect my motivation and will power to keep going and succeed to come back on its own when I am useful again, but I think I need help finding it and am too afraid to follow through. I expect to be able to go back to work in September, but at best I will be part-time. I expect my wounds to heal and my scars to fade quickly, but it is going to take years, and the scars will be with me forever. I expect no more tears when the pain is gone, but there will be more pain, there can’t be true happiness without bitter pain. I expect so much and yet most of it won’t work out that way, but I can’t stop the expectation. If I don’t expect to get better, I will never get out of bed. With all these expectations comes disappointment. When I realize I have taken a step back and it will take more time to heal it is like a sucker-punch to the gut. Sometimes I feel nauseous and a bit dizzy when I think about how long I am going to take to get better and how much this surgery is going to effect the rest of my life and the life choices I make.

Bah! This so wasn’t supposed to be a complain-y post, and I might just save it yet.
Here is the problem I have with goals. I find goals very much frustrating in the same way I do expectations. Every goal I make that seems practical now will be impractical when the time comes. My healing has been so sporadic I still can’t plan next week, let alone long-term goals. I have tried really short-term ones too, like “Today I am going to walk for an extra half an hour.” And then the day happens and I get tired and I don’t walk for that thirty minutes, and I am disappointed with myself. But again, I digress. It is time to address the second kind of expectations and goals. Mutual ones. (Du-Du-DUUNN!)

I have always been rather adamant about maintaining my independence within any relationship I am in. I may be C.’s girlfriend and my mom’s daughter, but above all I am S. The only role I would willing give up more than half of me is the role of mother. (My maternal desires, instincts, frustrations and limitations could be another whole post! Not that I am infertile, that I know of, more I don’t know how you ever make the decision to actually have a baby… The questions really just go on and on and on…) I say more than half of me there because I do believe that in every relationship we enter into we give up a little piece of ourselves and I don’t think it is always a bad thing, although it can be. For example, working a job that you find mediocre for practical reasons makes you have relationships with people you wouldn’t normally and you are giving them a small piece of yourself every time you go in to work. That can eventually become soul draining, because those pieces aren’t really offered willingly. You give a larger piece of yourself when you enter into a romantic, serious relationship. There are habits and customs that you give up or adopt, you try to blend your life by each giving up some parts of you, while gaining parts from your significant other. When this give and take becomes uneven, major relationship problems usually arise. Have you ever been in one of those relationships where you always think you are slighted, and the other person always views themselves as the slighted party as well? Your happy romantic union turns to bitterness rather quickly. Thankfully, C. and I have been able to look past a lot of our frustrations, and on my part, at least, there has been a lot of compromise and adjusting. I think that happens anywhere you try to share living quarters and a life. I don’t feel any bitterness yet, but we are getting tired of disasters. We need some time to enjoy each other and life without the feelings of failure, expectation or unfulfilled goals. It makes me sad that I have held him back and added so much stress for so long. We can’t realistically dream about the furture, or keep up with the present because my back is such an unsure thing, we are having problems finding a direction because we have no idea where we want to or can go. Anyways, that was a little off topic, so moving on… Friendships can be the same. (I should note, there are those friendships that never fall into this hole. I have three of them and I really hope they are reading and know who they are and that none of this applies to them!) How many friendships last after one of you surpasses the other in relationship status, career level  or a multitude of other things that friends squabble over? Some do, and some are purely based on this competition. Hm… again, maybe a topic for another post?

I guess this all boils down to me feeling like I can’t rely on anyone or anything right now. I have been disappointed too many times lately to really look at the world with stars in my eyes. That makes me sad, it is like I have lost a small piece of myself to… well, myself. When I try to see a year from now, for the first time, I can’t.  All I see is grey. I don’t know where I will be living, what I will be doing or whether I will be happy or not. I think the scariest thing would be to be sitting right here. I have been stagnant for a year and a half it is about time something shook up my monotony. I have been trying to do more, I have been trying to establish a routine but as of yet I have been unsuccessful. Which reminds me..

Have any of you had problems creating and maintaining a routine? How did you start it? Is there anything that really helped you stick to your plans? Anyone know how to kick-start motivation? I would be forever in your debt if you were to share! I have been incredibly sluggish, unmotivated and it really bothers me that now that I have a lot of time to do things I always seem to choose the activity that allows me to stay in bed. I would really like to break out of my old habits into a new and more healthy life style so any advice would be so appreciated, I am at a total loss of what to do to change my attitude.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this post, I am not sure it really went where I wanted it to, but I have resolved myself to spell checking and posting without re-reading it. Please forgive me if my sentences were rough, I usually polish up the flow, but this time I fear I will consign this post to the drafts folder along with the rest, so… That’s it! I hope all my net-friends are well and happy! I still have a lot of catching up to do, I just, well I don’t know. I want to read all your lovely posts, but I seem to be really sleepy, I suppose four months of interrupted sleep could do that to the best of us :P, and I spend most of my time when I am not exercising or walking watching some nonsense tv shows on the computer and knitting. I am not proud of it so, again, any suggestions on how to break out of my monotonous routine would be so appreciated!!!

As always, thanks for reading!                                          – S.


8 Comments to “Expectations, Goals & Failure”

  1. I’ve missed you. Hope you’re doing well.

    • Awwww, You warm my heart, Pat! Thank you for your kind words, I will be back to posting and commenting shortly!! I have sincerely missed all of ,
      my fiends.
      Thinking of you…
      Best and lota love!

  2. I’m glad you’re writing again. I have some observations about this post. I’m trying to think how to say them. Remember, I’m a grandmother and my oldest granddaughter is your age. She’s 26. I say this in order to say that with our age difference, we don’t think alike. But my years of living this long tell me that our emotions are alike no matter our age. So here goes.

    I get the sense that you’re spending too much time alone. I know I do. Is there a little coffee or tea shop in your beautiful old neighbor that you can walk to on a regular basis? I think you need to get out more and talk to people. I don’t know about you, but TV is deadly for me. i had a recent set back and have watched worthless stuff this weekend. I do that when I get depressed. I hereby declare, ENOUGH! The next time I think about turning on the television I’m going to call a friend or a sister or somebody.

    Are you eating well? I mean fruits and vegetables and whole grains. How about water? Stay hydrated. It helps to mitigate the pain.

    Is there a near neighbor who would like a cup of tea and a muffin or scone with you? Especially an older person. My next door neighbor is your age. I always feel rejuvenated after talking with her. We actually have little in common except that we are neighbors to each other and we look after each others houses when one of us is out of town. And we’re available to each other in time of need.

    OK. I didn’t mean to write a dissertation but one last thing–Do you have a spiritual goal or expectation? Don’t worry! I’m not a recruiter for my faith or any other. I’m just suggesting that sometimes that helps one to get through difficult times. If you believe in something bigger or greater than yourself, or if you ever have, now might be the time to take another look and see if you can find peace and guidance there.

    Take care, Ms. S.


  3. I realize this is snippy, but you’re on a long trip. You need to stop expecting instant gratification or that something will magically make it all better. While your surgeon rebuilt the foundation of your house and physical therapy is helping you remodel it, it’s your choice as to how to decorate it. As in if you keep focusing on the bad crap, your house is going to look like hell, you will always feel like hell, and you will never be happy.

    Your most important job is to recover. It’s not going to fast, pretty, make sense, or fulfill a specific medical time frame. The key point is progress, even if it’s at a snail’s pace. If you don’t recover, you won’t accomplish anything else. Ever. So quit worrying about that other stuff. Once you have your house in order, you’ll be able to focus on the things outside of it.

    Did you ever think about how bored you would be if you accomplished everything you had envisioned for yourself by the age of 25?

    In the meantime, make a list of what were you able to do the moment you woke up from fusion surgery. I think the only things on it would be — take medication and lay in bed. Maybe eat, if it didn’t make you sick.

    Now compare it to the list you’d write today. What you have on today’s list is considerably longer, and it will get longer.

    You’re a work of art in progress and like all great works of art, they don’t occur in one day. All great books, require MANY drafts.

  4. I am not in the least surprised you are ‘where you are’, finding it difficult to motivate yourself to do anything than the minimum to get by and through each day. But you are doing more. You are walking more, you are knitting. You are taking wonderful photos. Sometimes the goals need to be really really small so you can achieve them. As my Life Coach says when I hit a down – just remember small steps. And it’s true. So make your steps smaller, your goals closer and only when you find them easy to achieve add a little more space to them.

    Looking too far into the future can be very dispiriting – believe me – I know!

    Well done you for posting all your inner thoughts – a great achievement. A good goal – post again tomorrow – no matter how short the post!

    I love the new look to your blog.


  5. Ooh-ooh- a monotony breaker! Blog with us at “Living Out Loud”, pretty please?

    This month’s prompt is here: http://www.inabottle.org/2011/06/13/living-out-loud-volume-29-on-writing/ and you can read more about the overall endeavor here: http://www.inabottle.org/livingoutloud/

    I’ve completely enjoyed participating in this and would love to have you and any of your blog friends join us. The hostess, Genie, says, “The more the merrier! (which autocorrect tried to turn into nerdier) :)”

  6. Dear S. – So happy to see that you’ve blogged again. I missed your posts. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’ve spent thousands (just over a couple) on therapy this year and (only because you asked) I’m going to share something with you I heard from two of my shrinks. They said (it’s true, the BOTH did): “You’re eating some? You’re sleeping some? You’re exercising? Writing? [substituting your activity for mine>] Knitting? That’s a lot.” The point is, even though it doesn’t feel like it, you have been doing a lot. Please don’t be hard on yourself. You do sound frustrated with the monotony. I wish I had some magic words to help with that. What are you reading these days? Are you in between books? This is not a “fix” – but since you mentioned knitting, I have to share this beautiful blog with you …. LOVE IT! http://littlecottonrabbits.typepad.co.uk/my_weblog/2011/06/in-the-basket.html I SO wish I had a ton of money so I could send you one of these sweet sweet bunnies.

Do you want to give me some encouragement, criticism or comments? Please do!! What did you think of this post?

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