Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Great expectations

I was grousing to Paticus about law school and how so many people acted like there was a finite amount of success and happiness in the world - which means that if a classmate or friend achieved some, then there was less in the pot for them. Happiness as a zero-sum game. Paticus looked at me a long time and said, "You know that's life, right? Not just law school."

Old friends know you in ways that you sometimes don't even know yourself. Paticus went on to tell me that I have high expectations for people, and that I expect a lot from them - and that I'm always a little disappointed (or a lot, depending) when they fail to meet my expectations.

I'm not sure to what extent you can change the way you are wired. I've changed some - I am much easier on myself now than I was 10 years ago, and I am, in turn, less demanding of others. But, I also think that if you expect great things from people, they are more likely to come through. In a way I hadn't seen before, expectations are a form of trust. I trust you to be considerate. I trust you to think about the consequences of your actions.

Of course, trust can be misguided and mislaid. I've never understood most discussions of trust - I don't see how trust is earned, or how it is validated. In some ways, trust is defined by its absence - either you trust someone, or you don't. Someone has violated your trust, or she hasn't. Proving a negative is never secure.

Ultimately, I'm living my life the way I want to live it. I wouldn't want to mistrust everyone, or expect the worst from people. Just typing the words and feeling the thoughts behind them, I feel sour and somehow smaller. I know that this means that I will be disappointed at times, but I think that I also get to see people at their best.


sapna said...

Such an interesting post. I sometimes feel that I too have high expectations of people and I think I spent most of my 20s being disappointed. It took me a while to come to terms with and accept that it's ok for all of us to fall short of perfect. In many ways. Oddly, this has been freeing and made me more appreciative. One appreciates truffles more because they are rare and we don't expect that taste from every mushroom.

Chick Pea said...

maison: i've been faulted for the very same thing.. having expectations (high) on my close friends and family members...and then being let down... i also jive with your point on if you expect higher, they are more likley to come through doing great things...

comparison to trust is an interesting subject matter and to have it be seen as an expectation... my mind is pondering as i write this and percolating the thoughts..

hmm.... the wheels are still spinngin...great topic.. thanks.