Long held beliefs can create unrealistic expectations about life. And never more so than when you’re looking at creating a new “ideal for me” retirement lifestyle.
Let’s consider ideal versus reality. We get our unrealistic ideals — ideal beauty, ideal friendship, ideal romance, ideal family — from unrealistic sources – sit-com plotlines, fairy tales, Hallmark movies, and Norman Rockwell images. Expectations are supported with social media highlight reels that showcase these ideals about friendship, family, and success.
Sitcom friends are always there for each other to hang out or do things together. They are sisters on speed dial, through thick or thin, in an unshakable tribe that has your back, is by your side. Social media highlights girl-friend dates … as I am sitting on the couch alone once again! And I worry, why don’t I have a group of friends, like on “Friends”?
In Hallmark rom-coms, things always work out at the end of the day. Do I believe that life is always fair? Not really and yet, I’ve had much more positive than negative in my life. And I often feel guilty about that! But I do believe that hard work equals success. Try again; don’t quit. If you don’t believe you’ll succeed, you won’t. But is it really just that? No, there is some luck of the draw. I was born into white privilege. But, I strongly believe success is about the choices you make, working hard, sticking with things when it’s tough, and delaying gratification.
Do I believe that good deeds should be rewarded? Yes. And bad deeds punished. And then I see liars and cheaters and rule breakers making money and being successful. And wonder about karma.
Do I believe in Prince Charming and happily ever after? Yeah, a bit. Not the save-me PC, but the soul-mate kind. The one who might not be perfect, but is in-fact perfect for me. Our marriage is certainly not “ideal”, and we continue to work at it. Years ago a friend of mine M wrote a poem and I still recall this line: “I don’t want perfection, I just want a friend. To walk beside me and to hold my hand.” We continue to hold hands.
Do I have the perfect Normal Rockwell family? Hah! Does anyone really?
Unrealistic expectations can create negative feelings. I can despair I don’t have the sitcom friendships, the Normal Rockwell family, or the ideal marriage. I can feel frustration when I see bad people getting rewards or good people working hard and not making ends meet. I can feel guilty for my privilege.
But, recognizing many of these as unrealistic ideals can help me re-define what “ideal for me” truly is.
What unrealistic expectations do you have for life?
Picture Credit: Pixabay