Great Expectations: Birthday Edition

I think I’ve changed my mind. Less than a week ago, I wrote, and I quote, “I am a huge birthday person”.  Maybe I meant that I get really excited about others’ birthdays and not necessarily my own.  After celebrating my 36th birthday this past weekend I think I have concluded that I am stuck smack dab in the middle of, “my birthday is my favorite holiday of the year” and “I absolutely abhor my birthday, LOATHE.” Truthfully, I have been here, in the middle of the road, almost all of my adult life.  

 Let me start of off by saying, I enjoyed celebrating my birthday.  I was able to get some relaxation in, sans the kid. I ate extremely well and some of my favorite foods. I laughed. Time with my family is always good to my soul. There were things and people did that made me feel extra special and that is always great, right?  So, what was there to not to like? Absolutely nothing.  But as I predicted, I have discovered something else about myself I didn’t think I would have learned it this soon but hey, here we are. 

 Saturday, the day after my birthday, I was in a funk. There I was at home, with a what sounded like what my son’s preschool sounds like during Lego play.  It was just a two-year-old and my three-year-old. I wanted to be doing something else, desperately.  Someone asked, “where are you friends?” What friends? No, really. At one point, I did have friends who were gracious enough to plan a celebration of sorts, in my honor. But as I was so reminded, I don’t have those kinds of people in my life right now. My mom insisted I could not be satisfied and content with celebrating my birthday on my actual birthday and that’s it. Maybe she was right. But this girl, wanted to take full advantage and just have fun, the entire weekend. 

 After the weekend was over, I learned that my issue, my beef, my funk wasn’t about my birthday per se. It was about my expectation.  That was a tough pill to swallow, a hard truth.  I subconsciously expected others to celebrate me just the way I would if the roles were reversed. Well duh Minah, that’s impossible. Not everyone is a birthday person. Not everyone thinks like you and some folks don’t even know how big of a day this is for you. There was no way I should have been expecting such royal treatment. But I did.   I realized I was lingering in the unfulfilled expectation so much that I was not able to fully appreciate who was putting forth effort to celebrate me, even though they did not have to.  

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I am sure we have all felt disappointment when our loved ones don't seem to share in our hugest moments in the way we expect them too.  And that sucks but the truth of the matter is, when we expect so much from our family, friends and significant others, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment. And do you know what a disappointed, newly 36-year-old looks like? A spoiled, ungrateful brat with my face. Ugggghhhhh! 

Misplaced expectations, for me, exceed my birthday.  I set myself up for disappointment far more frequently than I should. Who do I think I am?  Clearly there are layers to this self-discovery thing. Now that I know this part of me, I must learn to improve in this area. How? Learn to let go. I am now committed to learning to let go of the high expectations a little at a time.  If I can learn to let go of my expectations a little at a time, I am less likely to put myself and those around me under so much pressure.  I am less likely to become disappointed when others don’t act how I would like them to.  The more I practice letting go, the more innate the habit becomes. 

Here I am 5 days into 36. Why do I keep getting disappointed? has been a question for quite some time. Just as I hoped, 36 has already become the year of answers. I just didn’t know it would be this soon.  

 How have you dealt with misplaced expectations?

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