The word expectation makes me nervous. It can be so happy and full, hopeful and bright. Or it can be the total opposite when the outcome does not match the expectation. Perhaps it is not surprising, as I speak and write about transparency and boundaries all the time, but expectations are part of that, too. If we have secret hopes and magical thinking about expectations, disappointment is possible. But if we talk about managed expectations, clarify a bit regarding how big we should be dreaming, this makes those with expectations more likely to feel happy and satisfied with the outcome.
Expectations are not the same thing as surprises. Well, not on purpose. If you ever had certain expectations in mind and the reality was far superior, exceeding your vision, you are very lucky. This summer we put up a large pool in our yard. It took a lot of financial planning, learning about installation and upkeep, then actually doing the work. I would have told you that I fully knew what we were doing and what to expect. Until I got in and felt overwhelmed with happiness. That was a surprise, exceeding my expectations. Having a fecund imagination, I am rarely blown away by expectations surpassed. How about you?
Have you ever had expectations regarding church? Sunday morning worship? Maybe when you were new? Maybe today? Once immersed, were you surprised at how much better it was than you could have expected? My first month of UU church was like that for me, 23 years ago. Talking about expectations and managing them is very important, especially for folks who have anxiety, or for little kids, or for anybody new to the endeavor, whatever that may be.
Even after it is up for discussion, the outcome of said clarifying conversation might be “We do not know what to expect.” Talk, plan, manage, be clear anyway because at least all the parties know that nobody knows what to expect. There can be camaraderie in this process.
Plan for success, expect anything. You will not be disappointed.
In peace with love,