Expectation vs. Reality

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Photo by luizclas on Pexels.com

I’m just not into Easter. There, I said it.

At least not the traditional Easter aligned with Christianity.

I learned a long time ago to be honest with myself and really explore what resonates with me.

I tried Christianity, even dabbling in Catholicism for a couple of years. I devoted myself, at some point finding all of the rituals of mass were pretty neat. Organized. Structured. Sometimes beautiful. I suppose I convinced myself that I enjoyed them, until I realized that I just didn’t.

Everything seemed fake to me. Perhaps it really hit me when a woman in the pew in front of me leaned over and whispered to her friend, “Do you see what she’s wearing?” while gesturing a few rows ahead.

That’s when I started to see that this church thing was nothing more than a social event. I decided I wasn’t going to find a higher power in that building or any other.

I came to realize that spirituality and religion don’t always equate and that I could have a deeper experience of the former if I stopped trying to conform to the latter. That is my truth. It doesn’t need to be yours. It just feels great to own it, because for a fair chunk of my life, I felt the need to live up to everyone else’s expectations.

I do wonder how many of the rituals and traditions we fall into along the way truly still resonate. Are we being honest with ourselves? Or are we just doing things the way we’ve always done them for acceptance? So we won’t be judged by our fellow humans? Because that’s what grandma would want to see and surely she’s looking down on us from heaven now?

Either judging or approving.

I find it wild that we care so much about approval, not just from those in our lives, but also from the departed or a deity. We’re always wondering if we’re doing it right by standards we’ve created in our minds.

I’ve seen people really fall into disappointment that they are unable to celebrate their holy week the way they’ve been accustomed. The way they’ve always done it. The tradition of it simply can’t be attained with social distancing and stay at home orders of the current pandemic.

It’s absolutely okay to feel the disappointment of those parts of life that fall short of our expectations. I just get super curious about it now and ask myself why I’m disappointed about something. Nothing about this weekend is really any different for me, so I have to think back to a time when something didn’t go the way I wanted it to.

This brings me to another theme of late which is high school graduation for the Class of 2020 (or the lack thereof). Most people seem to have resigned themselves to the fact that it’s not happening. At least, not on the timeline or in the manner expected. Not according to tradition. Not the same as it’s always been. I feel for these children.

That is, if it truly is they who mourn the loss of this tradition. Sometimes I wonder if it’s truly the parents who are crushed.

Again, just an opportunity to be honest with ourselves in the absence of judgement – be it our own or someone else’s.

Like many other things in life, I took an alternate path to my own graduation. I had dropped out of high school ever so briefly. I was fortunate to have a dad who informed me that if at sixteen years old, I wasn’t going to school, then I could work full time and contribute my income toward the household bills. After a few months of that nonsense, I went back to school with a mission: graduate on time.

The only way to make up that semester that I missed was to attend an alternative program. I’m pleased to report that I made it happen – finished on time, that is.

The cool part about the program was that I would get to graduate with the school I would have attended based on the district my address was assigned to. Yes, cool. But I wasn’t one bit interested in that traditional ceremony to be held in the arena downtown. I thought it would be super awkward to just show up and be seated next to other graduates I’d never even met.

They would probably whisper to each other, “Who the hell is this chick? And did you see what she’s wearing?”

Nope. Not interested.

The alternative for the alternative was to attend a joint ceremony with GED recipients in a much smaller auditorium.

Yep. Sign me up.

Then I found out that I couldn’t wear my cap and gown because it wasn’t fair to flaunt that with those receiving GEDs.

My name on my diploma was misspelled. I was probably most furious about that. I ended up getting it corrected by having one of my teachers at the alternative school hand print in calligraphy my name on a blank diploma they happened to have on hand.

The ceremony itself was all about the GED peeps and diploma recipients were an afterthought. My name was also misspelled on the program.

I was so very pissed about all of it then, but just recounting it now has me laughing about the comedy of errors along the way. Did any of it matter in the end? Not one bit.

Yet of course it mattered then. I just wanted acknowledgement of my hard work. I knew I wasn’t going to have a traditional experience, but I at least wanted the alternative to the alternative to go my way.

And that’s the real rub for all of us.

The realization that we aren’t controlling any of this.

Perhaps we have taken for granted the familiar and even the mundane parts of our routines. Perhaps we need to come to terms with the fact that life’s circumstances don’t always conform to the visions we carry in our heads. Perhaps we have to temporarily shelve the ideals we’ve carried around upcoming celebrations and our associated expectations.

That can be difficult to accept. It can be uncomfortable. It can bring up all kinds of feelings around fairness. Let yourself feel all of it while realizing it’s temporary.

Indeed, this too shall pass.

It’s a perfect time to settle in with yourself; to explore your inner spirituality and the wisdom within. It’s when we push back against what’s happening and try to wield an element of control over that which we cannot that we suffer.

And I promise this: you’ll have interesting stories to tell about the graduation that was totally different than everyone else’s.

You might even chuckle about it all one day.

You may come to understand that sometimes this life is just going to take you for a ride and the best thing you can do for yourself is to settle in and enjoy the experiences you are given.

Reality always wins.

If you would like to be coached on any topic, including the current pandemic events, I’m absolutely here for you! Book a free session with me here.



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