Expectation Vs. Reality

I sincerely hope you don’t expect much from this post. I don’t want you to be disappointed, or feel as if you wasted your time upon finishing the article. After all, I’m not here writing content for folks with the goal of providing an inadequate experience.

I’ve learned that our perception of any thing or occurrence in this world is not as much of a measure of what’s being perceived, but instead is a reflection of the perceiver.

What happens in life just, is. The more life you live, the more “is” you experience. Over time, you start to notice cycles, or rhythms, which allows us to fabricate predictions within our minds about what to expect next. Without much past experience, this would be hard to accomplish, as you don’t have much to base your guesses (or expectations) on.

Expectation Vs. Reality.

Some things are just facts. You can expect to get burned from touching a very hot stove. You can expect to be in pain if you stub your toe on something hard. These are two basic examples of things where if you tested these scenarios out many times, you’d get the same result probably 100% of the time (unless you’re a superhuman, especially for the latter example).

I like to think of these as “A” to “B” scenarios. If “A” happens, then “B” will simultaneously happen as a result. In cases like these, there are VERY few (if any) outside factors that will be influencing the relationship between “A” and “B”.

On the other hand, we have most everything else in life. There are so many moving parts, and factors outside of our control, all coming together to provide you with a plethora of outcomes resulting in our daily experiences.

What’s the leading cause of disappointment? Do you think it’s something caused by internal or external forces? Think about it.

Our minds can be our best friend or our worst enemy.

We tend to paint a mental picture of how things are supposed to be, and anything short of our fantasy sets us up for a negative response.

We’re all guilty of it. I am still a victim of occasionally creating expectations, and then ending up dispirited. If you have ever heard the saying “don’t count your chickens before they hatch“, then you get the idea of what I do to myself from time to time.

The more I remove expectation from my life, the happier I become.

Nobody wants to be disheartened, so why would you set yourself up for such a thing?

If you invest in things either with time or money, you naturally wouldn’t want to be let down. The way you approach any situation mentally makes a world of difference. As an example, I’m going to use how we perceive a movie we’ve never seen before as a way to convey why we should remove expectation from our lives.

You may be someone who:

Person 1:

Pre film:

Reads the summary of the movie, watches the preview, scans through the reviews, and asks your friend’s opinions before even hitting play.

You’ve now formulated an impression of the film ahead of time, and let’s say you determine it will be a junk movie. Instead of wasting your time, you decide to move onto one that seems rated well enough. All factors say that it’s going to be a great film so you have an increased expectation. The first film may have been extraordinary, but such is life.

Post film:

Occasionally the critics were right, and your judgement was on point because by the end, the expected result was received.

From my experience, I typically find the movie to be less than expected or not as expected. The issue with the latter is, even if it was very well made, I wasn’t able to enjoy it as fully as I could have, because I was trying to align it with my preconceived idea of how it was supposed to be. Talk about a square block in a circle hole 😐.

Expectations can lead to an unsatisfactory feeling in the end.

Person 2.

Pre film:

Looks at reviews, views some ratings, gets a general idea of what you’re getting into. Then no matter what you’ve found, you drop your expectations through the floor as a safety net. You make the assumption that the film is overrated.

Post film:

Considering that your expectations were very low, you were either thrilled or pleasantly surprised by the work of art.

Creating rock bottom expectations will always provide positive reactions because your impression of occurrances can only go up. – This I have to admit is the easy way out. Happy ending at what cost? Not thinking very highly of anything in exchange for a good time sounds counterproductive. On a similar note, you’re essentially proving yourself wrong each time things go right. “I’m wrong again about (…….), that was actually a lot of fun” is a backhanded way of putting yourself down. Why do it to yourself when others can voluntarily do it for you? 😊

Person 3.

Pre film:

Find a movie. Find out what category the movie falls into (comedy, horror, documentary etc.) Then watches the film with an clean slate/no expectation.

Post film:

You have a more fulfilling experience because you didn’t fill up your mind with so many details leading up to the actual event. Entering the experience without any idea of what was coming, allowed yourself to be surprised along the way.

In the end, you may have liked or loved the movie or you may have thought it was just a waste of time.

That’s the risk we take.

That unpredictability is what makes life interesting.

The hardest of the three, but in my opinion is the most rewarding. Clear your mind and take life as it comes. It only takes one moment/person/ray of sunshine/bird/anything in the world.. to make one situation different from another. It may feel as if it may not have anything else to offer, but there couldn’t be anything further from the truth.


Many people get bored with life, or their current situation.

It’s often not because we have done everything, or have already seen all there is to see. It’s because we think we’ve maxed out the potential of a situation/setting. We’ve climbed that mountain so we don’t do it again. We’ve been in that grocery store 9 times, so it’s obvious that the 10th time won’t provide any excitement in our lives.

You can apply this to any situation and realize that you’re doing yourself an injustice if you’re creating expectations. Stop hindering your potential for future opportunities based on what is likely to happen, because you’ve already done something similar in the past.

The reality of it all is that expectation either lets us down, or prevents us from doing things. With factors like these, there isn’t much growth potential. Like everything else, you need to look out for your best interests, and not because someone else has some sort of expectation of you. Resist the temptation of outside pressures such as FOMO.

If you’ve dug yourself an “expectation hole” and can’t seem to figure out how to get yourself out, just think about how you got there. I mentioned earlier about how it’s hard to create expectation with little life experience, or minimal experience in a certain area for that matter. With this description, children fit the bill. If you have a hard time living a life with little to no expectation, then view the world from the perspective of a child. Humor yourself by physically kneeling down, and putting yourself at the same eye level they’d be at in order to view your surroundings. This will literally change how you see the world.

This is something I’ve learned while teaching children. They’re always excited, and easily surprised/entertained by the setting they’re in. I notice parents of young children become reaquainted with the fine details of this wonderful planet, as they become involved on a more intricate level.

Simply put, with expectation aside, each day is a new start to a new you. Don’t take the little things for granted because yes, they’re in fact the things you can’t expect. They’re the minute details that are unpredictable. View these with the same awe as a child would, understanding that each piece is unique to itself. Now when put together, every bit of that puzzle creates days, months, and years that are beyond compare to one another. You may even create a one year plan because we can’t expect to live a long life, but we can live a fulfilling one.

Training your mind in such a way may enhance appreciation, deplete disappointment, and possibly fill your time with the little things which you may have forgotten are actually the big things. I write this last statement with a tone of uncertainty because it takes a lot of devotion on your end, and even then, don’t expect.

Just be.

The world is.

And you are growing.

Best regards,

– Jacob Pearson

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