Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Huge Expectations, Huge Disappointments

I was recently a huge disappointment to one of my friends. After beating myself up about what a terrible person I am and trying to explain the situation to him I realized something. He wanted more from me than I was willing to give. That brought on a slew of memories that have shaped me as a person.

We begin this tale as a junior in high school. I gave my best friend the silent treatment for two months. I thought she wasn't spending enough time with me and didn't care about me. Finally, we were hanging out together and she exploded at me. Explaining that I was being ridiculously jealous and ignorant. It was one of those moments where you realize she isn't done yelling quite yet but you suddenly understand the point. It was an epiphany. I had been a selfish jealous idiot. I was jealous of the other people she was spending time with. I thought they were more important than me. The reality was I wasn't as important as I thought I was, although I was still very important to her. Sometimes my ego needs a swift kick. I just needed someone to explain it to me. Since that time I can not remember being jealous. If someone is not spending the kind of time with me that I would like, well they are still spending time with me and I figure a little time is better than no time.

A second event occurred my junior year. One of my friends was dating a guy from another town. when I met him for the first time he said, "Oh, so you're Isaiah. I've heard a lot about you."

I responded with, "Am I what you expected?"

He said, "I try not to expect anything from people before I meet them because then I usually end up disappointed." Bingo! As soon as he said that I thought 'he is so right'. How often do we expect people to be something they are not? We go crazy and expect the next president to change everything, and when he only changes a few things we are disappointed.

A third and much more recent example. The last year and a half I hung out a lot with these three girls. Going into my relationships with them I expected nothing and they way over delivered! I expected nothing and they brought so many smiles, laughs, and a little bit of needed emotion to my life. The four of us did not have a whole lot in common by normal standards, but for some reason our friendship really worked. I mean they shared things with me that I had never heard before and chances are will never hear again. I just hope that I was as good for them as they were for me. Without going into detail we were/are like the four friends from Sex and the City.

The point of all this is that it is important to realize what expectations you bring to the table. What do you expect from someone else? How much are you willing for someone else to expect from you? Is either one realistic?

I'm more or less saying that sometimes expectations need to be lowered or even thrown away. Humans are not perfect. We are so far from perfect I don't know why we even use that word to describe people.

Personally, I have high goals, and low expectations. Every little step forward in any area of my life is seen as an accomplishment and a gift. I expected college would be really hard and that I would inevitably fail a class. So when I didn't fail any classes I was overjoyed.

I don't expect my friends and family to go out of their way to help me. They have already done so much I can't ask for anything more. If they do, fantastic! If they don't, that's ok because they have already done so much. On the other hand, would I go out of my way to help my family and friends? I like to think that I do. I feel that I have to repay people for what they have given to me. How effective I am at helping anyone, I'm not sure. Based on the little I know, I fail a whole lot more than I succeed. Some people may see this view as pessimistic but I think it is "plan for the best, prepare for the worst" neither optimistic nor pessimistic.

Another example is from Pakistan. Sometimes people ask me if I was disappointed when I had to turnaround without a summit day on Broad Peak. The answer is a resounding "no". It was a horror show up there. People falling down in the snow, people with HACE, a woman dying, people not getting back until 7 PM and add to all of that the people the three weeks before that had been airlifted out. I was tickled pink to feel my toes, I had an appetite, I was thirsty, I was coherent, life was very very good at that point. The whole reason I tried an 8000 meter peak was to give myself the opportunity at a summit. Success? One guy from our expedition never got above basecamp. Another ended up with 3rd degree frostbite. I'm saying that my expectations of what I was going to accomplish changed a lot the more I learned about the process. A year before the trip I thought I would summit. After talking to veterans I decided that getting to 7000 meters would be great. After talking to people on the expedition with me (and living the experience) I was happy to just wake up every day. Basecamp, camp one, camp two, and camp three were all altitude records for me. I mean I had an enormously successful expedition. People that were at Broad Peak basecamp this summer lost toes, got sick, even died. Enough about Pakistan...

How much do you expect?


  1. That guy is an ignorant idiot! He shouldn't expect so much of people let alone more than they are willing to offer. He should get a life.

  2. There is a difference between my friend and I. He tried to explain to me his expectations. When I gave my friend the silent treatment I did it without telling her why. I thought that her time with me was more important than her time with other people. I learned that I can not influence other people's priorities. My friend already knew that. I learned that having a part of someone's time is better than having no time with them. Of course, that is only my view on spending time with people and I do a lot of things wrong.

  3. Great article Isaiah. I think I know who those 3 girls are but it is so funny to think of you guys as the sex and the city group!!

    Time is the most precious thing we have and we should constantly evaluate how we spend it.
    Tracey (Vincent)


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