Tierra Encantada

Friday, February 24, 2006

Expectations Part 2

February 28, 2006

Birthdays are always a good time to take stock of one's life, review the past year's successes and failures, count one's blessings and set one's goals for the upcoming year. I guess that's where I am right now. I always had plans for an Expectations Part 2, but just hadn't gotten around to it.

When I was younger I always had pressure not to get involved in a relationship. I had to pursue my education and the world was before me just waiting for me to go out and conquer it. Being an overachiever with incredible focus, this wasn't a big deal. I knew what I wanted and was determined to get it.

I remember my first day of university and walking into the bookstore only to see Brides magazine at the doorway as I walked in. It came up during orientation activites on more than one occasion just how many married couples met in college. (My own parents met at college). I found it quite disconcerting. Why would people spend $25,000+ per year to go to college solely with the intent of finding a spouse? I was there to get the first class education that was going to make me financially and professionally successful, not to find a husband. Couple that with the fact that my grandmother told me before I left for school that I was going to end up like my mother, getting married without finishing college. She forgot the fact that they refused her any financial assistance after the first semester on the off chance that she might want to one day get married and her husband would take care of her. It was the 60s so you get the idea. She just didn't have the means to finish or the knowledge of how to go about getting financial aid. It wasn't her choice not finish. I was offended more about what she said about my mom than her expectations of me and became that much more deeply determined to stay focused. I made it through college in 4 years and without getting married or even having a real boyfriend for that matter. Sometimes I think about how different things might have been if I had been a different person at that time, if certain situations in my life had been different. I wonder if I missed out on an amazing guy, but really, there's no way to know.

Once out of college, the pressure to get married started to come from my culture, from co-workers and friends, from my family, except for my mom. She's always maintained that it should be a choice I make on my own terms, in my own time. :o) The change in attitude of people around me was confusing. First you say no, now you say yes?! Ugggghhhh. I spent so much time focusing on my studies, I never learned about functioning in a relationship. Well, that's not totally true - I did end up in a psychology class for my freshman seminar which dealt heavily with interpersonal relationships. It was too touchy-feely for my own comfort, but I did learn a lot about myself and how to resolve my interpersonal relationship issues. But still, reading books and controlled classroom exercises are a big leap away from the real world. I'm not very trusting by nature and like most people have had some experiences that I've never forgotten, things that completely changed me into the person I have become.

I've taken a lot of time to evaluate the root of my own dysfunction and fear of relationships and am happy to say I've worked through all the issues. My years of relationship avoidance have not been in vain! :o) I am truly more at peace and happier with every year that passes. I think being truly happy and at peace are elusive to most people. I know I've worked hard at it.

Still, I do get twinges, with the weddings and baby showers that pop up from time to time. My cousin's wife recently had their second child at the age of 35, by all standards on the cusp of high risk pregnancy age. I'm getting closer to that age and dare I say I hear the faint tick of my biological time clock?! My mother has resorted to calling my cocker spaniel, Dante, her grandson. lol I am comforted by the 62 year old woman that just gave birth, as controversial as that may be. lol

I am not one of those people that just inherently knows that marriage and motherhood are what I want. I certainly question my own selfishness, as in I love my life as it is, but I don't rule out the option. But more than the deep desire for marriage and/or motherhood, I have a deep curiosity of them. There is something wonderous about them. Sort of like before I visited Italy - it was mysterious and fascinating and I wanted to experience it for myself. After the trip, I was glad I visited and had the experience, good and bad, of visiting, but I was glad I didn't live there. And although I'd probably go back, I'd pick a different country to visit instead if given the option. I think there is also some fear of the unknown that tempers my enthusiasm and well as the fear that my expectations, my hopes will never measure up to the reality. I fear the disappointments of the experience will far outweigh the joys. However, the fear of regret works both ways.

I once had a horoscope that warned me not to get involved with anyone because no real man could compete with the one I had created in my head. If nothing else it has given me food for thought. lol I know that it is certainly true, but I like to think of this facelss man of my dreams as an ideal, a standard, made up of all the good qualities of men I've known in my lifetime. I don't expect perfection, but I certainly want the positives to outweigh the negatives and want the potential for more positives to develop. I think I have more empathy for men than 99% of women, so I don't feel like I'm being unreasonable in my expectations. I don't expect him to put the toilet seat down all the time or to be fearless in every situation or to have all the answers all the time or to make everything alright because somethings are beyond anyone's control. I feel like I understand men, most of the time their motivations are fairly clear cut, they're not a big mystery, unlike women whose motivations are much more complex and often conflicting. I'm a woman so I can say that right?! lol

I just want a rational means of evaluating any potential mate. People who just jump blindly into the fire drive me crazy. Their judgement is often clouded and they bring more grief and drama into their lives than necessary. If they had only taken some time to take a good look at the person and situation before they became entangled with them...I suppose on some level I would want fireworks, weak knees, and curled toes, but at the same time, that which is lasting and true needs to be grounded, rational. It needs to make sense on different levels.

Children are not so easy. Parenthood is certainly filled with joys and heartaches and the unexpected - you can try to be the best parent you can be, but your child will not always live up to the hopes you have for them and somehow you have to be okay with that and love them unconditionally, nonetheless. Sometimes they will excell beyond your wildest dreams and surprise you in the best ways you never imagined.

Perhaps my expectations, my ideals preclude me from marriage and motherhood or perhaps they are solid grounding. Maybe I really am my own worst enemy. For now though, I am content to yield my fate to faith and let what is meant to come to me, come in it's own time, but with my eyes open and my heart and mind more willing to see things that in that past I would have done my best to ignore. :o)
Xmas Joy

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Guess what I got for Christmas?

A medical book! As Charlie brown would say "Good grief!"

Well at least now I know how to deliver a baby and identify various skin diseases should the need arise. :o)
Expectations Part I

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lately, I’ve been thinking about expectations. What others expect of me, what I expect of myself, both professional and personal expectations. I guess what brought this up was a discussion with my parents and brother. My dad always wanted me to be a doctor. My mom isn’t that specific, but wants me to be out there changing the world and my brother just thinks I should be in a higher paying job. This discussion pops up every now and then and it always seems to start out with my dad asking, “why aren’t you a doctor?” I have the habit of dispensing medical or health related advice or giving a probable diagnosis of someone’s health problems based on information I’ve absorbed over the years and gut instinct. I’m pretty much always right despite my lack of formal medical training. I always respond to him with, “it doesn’t matter, you don’t take my advice anyway”, my brother will interject “well you don’t have an MD after your name!” I have to defend myself and say “well at least I didn’t waste the $100,000 on medical school when you’re going to ignore what I tell you anyway.” lol

My mom on more than one occasion has told me I am wasting my life in the career I’m in, given my potential. My dad is much gentler and says I have the potential to do anything. I’m the gifted child, with a genius IQ, who absorbs everything around me like a sponge. I have rarely had to work at anything to be successful at it. I’ve surely had an easier life than most people in this world. I realized how blessed I am; I don’t take anything for granted. I know that it could all change in a split second.

What happens to us when we fall short of the expectations of others or worse, our own expectations of ourselves? Frankly, my life has not turned out the way I imagined it would. Not that it’s a bad life, as I said I am incredibly blessed, it’s just different that what I imagined it would be. The things I thought I wanted turned out to be different than what I expected them to be. Life has a way of handing you disappointment and disillusionment sometimes or rearranging your priorities, for better or worse.

As a result of or in spite of all life’s surprises and lessons, I am quite happy at least 95% of the time. I suspect I am happier and more at peace than most people in this world. I think I’ve also put a lot more work into achieving those things than most people in this world. Oddly, I think that is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted that I’ve had to work hard for. I have achieved great success in terms of being truly happy and at peace. Surprisingly, I never expected happiness to matter. I grew up in the 80s; money was the measure of success and still is for most people.

It is hard, nevertheless, to feel like I am a disappointment to my family. If I didn’t have high self-esteem and confidence in my own abilities, I could have crumbled at hearing their opinions about my life, successes or lack thereof. We all want to make our parents proud. At the same time, however, we will not ever really be happy living our lives to meet someone else’s expectations.

If I fall short of my own expectations, it is in that I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I have a career, but other than the financial security it provides, I could take or leave the work I actually do. I have learned a lot of different skills and have a broad range of useful knowledge, but I don’t love what I do. I envy those people that have a deep passion for something and follow that passion. I think those are the luckiest people. The decision is easy for them, they’ve found something they love to do and they pursue it, regardless of how much work or risk or struggle it may take to be successful. I have many interests, but no true passions, and I am certainly too indecisive to be able to focus my energies on even a handful of interests. Although I feel quite content being the jack-of-all-trades, I feel as if surely I must be missing something, having no real passion in my life.

For my family, the answer is easy, “just pick something.” Anything will do for the purpose of achieving more. But, I’m looking for passion. Unless I achieve that, it seems like a relative waste of time, money and energy; and it doesn’t get me closer to the goal of doing something I love for a living. So, the real question for me is, how do I find my passion?

I started blogging on myspace, but I feel way too old to be there, so I'm transferring my first few posts. :o)

Monday, October 17, 2005

The other night I was at an organizational dinner, the guest speaker was a trainer whose main focus is CHANGE. I had been through the training, so it wasn’t new to me, but was a good reminder of everything I had learned. The foundation of the training is based on cognitive psychology and the fact that we believe what we tell ourselves is true, what we let ourselves believe. Through a combination of creating a vision, goal setting, self-talk and daily positive affirmations, we can change anything in our lives that we don’t like. Well, it won’t make me taller, so I shouldn’t say anything. This doesn’t mean we have power to bend everyone around us to our will, but it does mean we have the power to change ourselves. And sometimes, if we change ourselves for the better, the way people react to us may change for the better.

The technique is so simple, yet can be applied to any aspect of our lives. It can be major changes like career advancement, quitting smoking or improving our relationships with people or something small like eating better, exercising more or not letting the little things annoy.

Make a list of everything you don’t like about your life and a list everything you’d like your life to be. This forms the basis for your change, your goals. Take some time to daydream, create your vision of what you would like things to be like ideally. The more detail the better. Write down your goals, your vision. By writing it down, you are making a commitment to your dreams. It doesn’t matter how impossible they may seem, they are your dreams. Don’t worry about how you’re going to achieve the goal, just set the goal.

Next, start the self-talk and daily affirmations. Tell yourself you already are what your want to be. You may feel a little like Stuart Smalley at first, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough and gosh darn it, people like me.” Let me give you some examples of positive affirmations: “I am a non-smoker”, “I’m a healthy person who exercises and eats right”, “I’m affectionate with my loved ones”. Bad examples would be “I won’t smoke”, “I’ll try to exercise more and eat better”, “I won’t act like such a b*tch”. See the difference? Write down your affirmations and review them at least a couple of times a day. Let all self-talk be positive, refuse to express negative attitudes and display negative behaviors.

Here’s where your brain starts to really work for you. The more you affirm your new reality, the more you think about your new vision, your new goals, the more your brain starts to focus on what it’s hearing and seeing, the faster your brain starts to believe this new reality. The farther real life is away from the new reality of your brain, the more tension there is and the more determined your brain is to eliminate the dissonance between the two. This tension prompts your brain to start behaving in ways to make the two realities the same. You start making decisions to change your behavior and your thinking. Your brain starts filtering information in ways to help you overcome obstacles and find solutions that will help you to achieve your goals. It’s that easy.

There are things that hold us back from succeeding in our personal and professional lives. We all have habits, mindsets, and emotional baggage. We can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy. The hard part is looking within and acknowledging our weaknesses, our fears, our imperfections and our shortcomings. It’s painful to admit we are less than we would hope to be. It’s easier to place blame elsewhere or say to ourselves there is nothing we can do about it and give up or walk away or settle for things as they are. It’s true there are some things in life that we just can’t control, but we can control our own actions, what we do, what we feel, how we react to other people and situations. Success comes down to our own strength of will and willingness to change.
So, ask yourself: what about yourself or your life are you unhappy with? What would you like to be better? What do you secretly wish for, but are afraid to really want for or go after? Are you willing to do a little self-analysis and a little work to transform your life? Every minute of every day represents an opportunity to change. Are you willing to take advantage of the opportunities