There’s a reason why there are so many memes and tropes build around the theme of “Expectation vs. Reality”: it’s because the tension is real.
It’s part of the human condition. No matter where or who you are, there’s a gap between your current reality and what you expect, and it’s natural to want to close the gap. You can either close the gap by changing your reality or changing your expectations.
The thing is, expectations are often a lot more malleable than reality. Reality is a messy, chaotic, Brownian thing, shaped not just by your actions but also the actions of others around you; not just by your wishes but also by the wishes of others related to you; and not just by your history but also the history of others who came before you. How can you fight a typhoon of conflicting, clashing forces, the sum of all fears, the product of all appetites?
So you shift your expectations. You resign yourself to reality, surrender to its ebbs and flows, to its whims and caprices, which seem to be nothing more than random flux, no more predictable than the winds of a hurricane. You change to suit the environment. You become one with the mob. It’s adaptation, you tell yourself. It’s what you have to do to survive.
However, closing the gap by changing your expectations isn’t really the way to be happy. You bend and blow in the wind, and thus avoid getting your spirit broken, but it leaves the spirit flaccid and shapeless, a tree that does not stand.
So, here’s the question for today: should you live your life waiting for others to be okay with what you really want? Or should you live life changing what you want based on what others prefer or expect?
Or should you live your life based on what you expect for and from yourself?
A better question: when does expectation dictate reality, and when does reality dictate expectation?