Monday, October 02, 2006

The problem with expectations

If you hurt me I have a hard time forgetting. Its like a scar branded just under my skin that flares everytime I see you. I dont get hurt easily, but the one that stings most painfully is the one that happens most frequently: insincerity. If you are my friend there is very little I wouldn't do for you. The problem is I expect likewise from others and when I don't get the phone call in a time they knew I needed it the most... or a comment is made that reveals something I did not expect.. my heart breaks a little, and to self preserve, closes off forever. Life is too short to spend with people who are insincere. Why sit and chit chat at parties and meet for dinner dates when you know that if you needed them, you could not be certain they would help you even if they could?

I wish I could just take people for what they are and not let it get to me. Life is full of different people and you can't expect everyone to be the same. Perhaps they never meant to hurt me and I am sitting here needlessly turned off. Perhaps I have hurt others inadvertently and have never known it. Most people who are hurt by someone shrug their shoulders and move on. I've seen people who despise one another sit down at a diner party, smile, laugh and have a grand old time. I can't do that. I'm incapable. I will smile stiffly, I will look at the clock. Remark on how lovely the weather is. The discomfort is plain upon my face. But they have no idea. So who do I hurt? me. Only me.

If you live in this world you can't expect the world to play by your rules. I wish I could learn to accept this and not demand unformity in others in this aspect for it leads to a smaller ever shrinking social circle.


Ek Umeed said...

I can only assume that you are writing this post in reference to something that has recently occured OR has occured previously and you are only now getting around to sharing your feelings on the subject. Whatever the case, I want to share my experience with you in the same vein. (Sometimes, it is so odd to see you write of your experiences because I can easily sometimes see myself penning those thoughts. Eerie. Deja vu.) In so many ways, I have always maintained high expectations of everyone around me, which is why I have been told by so many people that that is my cross to bear. If I get disappointed or hurt by people who fail to then meet my expectations, I should not be the least bit surprised because my expectations were so darn high to begin with!

After hearing that statement across the board and so many times from different people in my life (whom I care about and who care about me), I decidely lowered my expectations of some people. Because you know what? Life is too short and too beautiful to spend my energy feeling betrayed or sad by the actions or inactions of people I have some high expectations from! And you know what? I feel more content in my life after finally applying that mantra to my outlook on friendship and living.

And, you know, what's more? I am a wonderful friend! But I cannot expect everyone to be the same way! Everyone has their own standards of what a good friend should be or do, and I cannot expect everyone to live up to my standards. It is both unfair to me and the individuals concerned who I have these expectations from. Why? Because not only have I have failed to account for differences in their perceptions of limitation within the boundaries of friendship, but "I" myself have set own self up for the subsequent letdown.

Since I have matured, I have realized that I can only choose to treasure people who I know would meet my high expectations any day! And I do treasure these friends because I know from personal experience how rare a breed they are! To me, they stand as a find more rare, and thereby more precious, than any archaeological find!

And honestly, I advise you to do the same. I know that the above will be hard for you to accept or apply in your life initially because you seem much like the idealist I am. But believe me: The outcome is worth it! And I wish I could tell you that the process and act of lowering your expectations will be easy or that you will be excited about the new mind-set on the onset. But no, it won't be easy and you won't like it in the beginning. At the start, it will feel like a compromise on an aspect of friendship that you feel strongly and passionately about (which is essentially being there for someone no matter what). But later on, you will recognize that you should not have had high expectations of those people at all. You will reflect on how you could have escaped those small hurts and pains caused by high expectations long ago, and you will be glad that you were finally able to escape the self-defeating and disheartening cycle of high expectations. And sometimes, those very people who you now have no or low expectations from will positively surprise you.

Anonymous said...

I wish I could just take people for what they are and not let it get to me. Life is full of different people and you can't expect everyone to be the same. Perhaps they never meant to hurt me and I am sitting here needlessly turned off.

I read somewhere: frustration is result of expectation. (Prof. Covey)
Abu Jee

Abdusalaam said...

"Life is too short to spend with people who are insincere. Why sit and chit chat at parties and meet for dinner dates when you know that if you needed them, you could not be certain they would help you even if they could?"

But what do you do if you're left with no sincere friends? Then what? Do you choose to be on your own or do you choose to sit with your insincere friends till you come across sincere friends?

Huda said...

Nobody should ever have to settle for insincere friends... because isn't that somewhat oxymoronic?

mezba said...

My Islamiat teachers used to teach us (and some even practice) never to be mean because Allah may forgive your sins towards Him but He won't forgive your meanness to others. But if you are always nice you let people walk all over you and they take advantage. Quite a dilemna there!

Koi Pahailee said...

I do the same
and I feel, I am left with very little friends as a result
that makes me sad sometimes
cuz the ppl I left cuz of this, had some good sides too you know.
So you might want to consider that

Zak said...

Very true Mezba..good advice from an intelligent man.

I'd simplify my response to this:
We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.
- Anais Nin

In the end Aisha, i think there is a finite number of people a person can really know and remain close to in life. Sometimes its just those we know as a child and sometimes its others.

Anyway to simplify just remember this latin aphorism of life. Ars longa, vita brevis and you'll be fine..

Shabina said...

aw, sorry you're going through a hard time, chica. my two cents - some people are just poison. there's no reason not to smile and chat with them at parties (if we all said everything we were really thinking the world would be a noisy place), but there's also no reason to keep letting them hurt you.

and though forgetting may be impossible, forgiveness sure is divine... :)

momyblogR said...

Expectations....Hm. I also recover very slowly from hurt. Not from the hurt of life in general and disappointments that came along but the hurt caused by a friend or someone I thought was a friend.

As I've gotten older, I have learned to expect very little of people. I've also learned what "true" friendships are and that if I can count them all on one hand, I'm doing well. These are the people that have my complete loyalty but are also the ones I expect from. Yes, one of them is my Husband.

How does that saying go...."To have a friend, you must be a friend" I'm not sure that always works out. Being a friend hasn't always gotten me a friend. It's actually gotten me burned, but that is a live and learn part of life.

The insincerity thing...I'm totally with you. If someone has fallen out of my favor as a result of their own doing or behavior, they know it. I, like you have a hard time pretending all is well. I am polite but do not overextend myself at all. Gosh, I don't even think I mention the weather, lol!

I guess we just learn as we go, who we can count on and who we can't. Sad things is, we do get hurt along the way. But I do look at the few great pearls of friendship I do have....for me it's well worth it.

Aisha said...

Ek Umeed, thanks for your thoughtful response. I think that altering expectations are important. They can lead to needless disappointment.

Abu Jee very true. :)

Abudsalaam I dont know. What do you think. My dad once said that you may not like them particularly much but through them you could meet a true friend. Thats a good point. But I dont know. Are you being a hypocrite hanging out with people you don't like and inviting them into your home? I dont know.

Huda *I* think so! Friendship is a choice....

Mezba, I am certainly not mean to them. I am nice and will ask how they are doing and engage in the usual small talk. But I feel uncomfortable in my heart and I dont like doing it. That doesnt make it mean though.

Koi welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting. You are right. thats why adjusting expectations is so important. Because though they may lack in this area they may have other good points.

Zak great quote! Thanks that really is very thought provoking.

Shabs forgiveness is divine. Its a virtue because it takes work to acheive :)

Momyblogr, I think you are very very right. I have an X amount of friends who I know will be there for me no matter what. I should be blessed I have any at all. And you're right, I mean to have a friend you should be a friend. But that doesnt mean that all who you are friends to are going to be you friends to you back. But let me ask you this, considering your children probably have friends and you have to mingle with their parents, and other things may make you encoutner people who you may not be fond of or have hurt you but you have to still see them (family members for example too) what do you do? Do you smile and talk and not let it get to you? Or do you have a hard time with that.

William Smith said...

I think ek umeed's comments are very profound and true. I, however, often share this same lack in being able to forgive. I find this occurs most often when the person in question doesn't seek foregiveness. I such a circumstance I don't feel that my human inability to forgive those who don't seek it to be a serous flaw, only a human one. While I accept the fact that it might be more spiritually enlightened to do so, I also accept my failure along these lines.

While I can't say I know you all that well, I can say that through your writing I have come to know you a little and as such am very glad to have had the chance to read your blog. I also am extremely grateful for the insights you have added to mine through your comments. So try to not let your heart be crushed too badly by the seemingly never-ending misery and sorrow which this life can bring. You may not know me that well, yet you have had a very positive impact on my life and I am eternally thankfull that you haqve been there to do it.

Thanks Again!

mystic-soul said...

What should I say..I went through the same thing today and you can see on my post !!. I will not say anything as Ghalib said:

Ye kahan ki dosti hai ke bane hain dost naaseh
Koi chara-saz hota, koi gum gusaar hota

Maleeha said...

I'm sorry you've been hurt. Quite honestly, I'm often so afraid of being a bad friend myself that I limit my friendships quite severely. I can count my good friends on one hand, maybe even half a hand, and I like it like that. But if those very close people hurt me, its hard to recover. I guess the best thing is to expect not so much from others, and think about what you could have done to make the situation better. But, its hard to give good advice without knowing what the problem is. InshaAllah, you will figure it out - you're more than capable!

momyblogR said...


I have to say mingling with people I don't care for is a hard thing for me and some of them are family (a mother in law for example)....Yes, I do struggle. However, because it's usually a personsal thing, meaning I alone was affected by this unfavorable person, I smile, although through clinched teeth and make very polite small talk. I have a hard time putting on the face but when it comes to my children or the feelings of others love, I do it.

I hope that doesn't put me as two faced....I just try not to push my own feelings on others.

For example....My very best friend of 20 years, boyfriend, I could do without forever. But because she is with him and they have a life together, I smile, make him feel welcome in my home and treat him like I do her. But, if I was being completely honest, he's a jerk and don't like him at all. But I love her, so I have to accept him....our friendship means more to me then the dislike I have for him.

So, I guess to answer your question, I do it. Not always willingly or with an honest attitude but I do. BUT, it's only to spare the feelings of those I love.

mezba said...

i have learnt not to expect too much from some people, they are just crap. However u do expect ur relatives to be there for u! Anyways, buck up and take care. Only 20 days to Eid.

Aisha said...

William, wow, thanks for your kind words about my writing. Dont know if I deserve such high praise but I appreciate that it meant something to you. I think you hit the nail on the head though, its hard to forgive people who do not care about your forgiveness. It is a human error and its hard to be otherwise.

Mystic, sorry you went through that tday. For me its not just one thing its a culmination and I finally put "pen to paper" but I'm sorry you lost a friend today.

Maleeha, yes quality not quantity is the key.

Mommyblogr, yes family is a very common culprit in the fight to be polite. After getting married I've had the fortune of being to avoid certain relatives that I'd rather not meet and that has helped but if I were to meet them I would have to be polite and smile and discuss the weather. But its part of the game we play I guess. And yeah, when you have to do it for who you love, you have to do it. Its not hypocritical at all!

Mezba. Hm. Can youe xpect all your relatives to be there for you? Maybe you are very lucky. I can count on my family which means my immediate family and thats where the line draws. If I had to make a late night call in a time of need I don tthink it woul dbe a relative who I'd have on speed dial. But you're lucky if you can have that. I've never known what that could be like. And yes Eid is 20 days away :)

Tee said...

Wow - You get so many amazing and heartfelt comments. It's too bad we can't know all the sincere people here face-to-face.

I have very high standards for friends, too. As a result, I don't have any friends "in real life". (That and the shyness factor.)

Which is worse? Friends with flaws or no friends at all? I don't know, either. To be honest, I don't know that if I held myself up and was objective if even *I* would qualify to be my own friend.

Do you hold your family to the same standards? I know I don't. My sisters and my husband make mistakes all the time which would have me turning cold towards a friend.

Maybe that's something to think about? Maybe our friend standards aren't attainable? Maybe you can talk to this friend about how you're feeling? Is this an internal change that needs to be made or an external (loss of friendship)change that needs to be made?


Enyur said...

...and sometimes a smaller social circle is all we really need.

Hope you're doing well.

Aisha said...

Hmmm thats a good question tee regarding do I hold my family to the same standard. I would have to say yes. Like I said earlier I have shut out relatives from my life that I have not interacted with in yeras because they lack sincerity. Thank GOD my immediate family has been completely sincere. but the shutting off at sign of insincereity.. let's just say its not a good quality :( I wasn't actually referring to a single friend.. just a culmination of things over the cousre of a life time. It all jumbled up over the weekend making it inescapable for me to just get frustrated. But youre right perhaps my stndard is too high for friendship.. I mean there are different types. You can't expect all to be "true blue" Some are just to hang out with. some to just talk about X, or Y, or Z. You are right, perhaps a reavaluation of standards is needed!

Enyur, yeah perhaps :) I hope yo'ure doing well too kiddo :)

Jane said...

I'm with you, dear. I find phoniness to be disgusting and I can't fake it when I dislike someone. I am just not a very good actress in that aspect. I hope you are feeling better about whatever happened that incited you to write this post.

Chic Mommy said...

same here. I hate fake people and having to put on an act, but especially with the desi parties, you have to act fake, it's almost like that is the way it's done. You know no one is really your friend and the only reason they are talking to you is to gossip about you when you leave. It's pathetic.

There was this "friend" I met at one of these desi parties who lived within walking distance of my house who said,"my son is the same age as yours, you can drop him off anytime, my son would love a playdate" so when my twins were born, I took her up on her offer and within 20 minutes she was calling me to come get my son because she had to "cook dinner and her husband was going to come home soon." she was such a fake lying bitch. why'd she offer to watch him in the first place if she didn't really mean it? I've learned this is what people do, they say things because they think that is what is expected of them, but they don't really expect you to believe them and take them up on their offers of kindness (because inside they are not kind, they are heartless bitches). I've become more keen now and know who is telling me the truth and who is putting on an act. suffice it to say, I trust very little people.

ASH said...

There are 5 billion people in the world, you are going to find some that are insincere and even some that if the world fell apart tomorrow would kill and eat your children without guilt.

I used to take it personally when I would become friends with someone and trust them....and then they turned on me for some reason. I hardened my heart and isolated myself too. But in the end I have come around to the notion that I can act sincere, and I can be friendly.....and who gives a damn what the other person is like. And so, while I won't sit through a dinner with someone I despise....I won't avoid them either.

Just be yourself, and don't isolate yourself....there is too wide a world and too interesting people to stay home or avoid contact.

Rabia said...

i hear you, aisha. i am the same way.

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