402. Thoughts About Expectations

I try to cram in time to connect with other bloggers, but as should be no secret by now, that is really a challenge for me given my current life.

It has been really hard for me to find other blogs of interest, also. I know that sounds snobby but I realize it is also a fault of my own to an extent: I have not spent enough time thinking about what kind of blogs I want to connect with, for example. The only thing I can say for sure is that I am really attracted to eclectic blogs, like my own. So maybe that is a good guiding line and I should just keep following it.

I will. But I have to carve more time for it.

Anyway, recently I found this fantastic blog that really is both interesting and diverse – “Fortress of the Mind”, it is called. The blogger, going by the name of Quintus Curtius, blogs and podcasts about all kinds of topics with depth, passion, originality and obvious life-experience. So it’s a treat to read and follow.

One article and podcast from a while back caught my interest in particular, and for reasons that are probably not so strange – it is about expectations from fathers towards their sons – and about expectations in general of other people.

My comment on that post is worth saving here for later, since it is also a promise I make to myself – about how I will see Jay in the years to come. For ease of reading (and because of its length) I won’t put it into a quotation block:

My spouse and I have been talking about how he [Jay] will be when he grows up and, implicitly, what to expect of him. Not much, but enough to make me think about it from time to time … what if he somehow is a ‘disappointment’? What if he overall and generally behaves in ways that I just feel are not right? I am not exactly sure what it could be.

But it is there in my mind, and comes up from time to time: What if he becomes a bully at school? What if he drinks in secret as a teen or steals something? What if he just loafs around like a young adult, instead of trying to set some kind of course? Some of these examples are very theoretical, I feel. I just can’t imagine him becoming a bully, for example. Or stealing. But you never know… I believe in a combo of nature and nurture, so he might get into some problems later on no matter how well my spouse and I try to raise him. And once he becomes a young adult all bets are off. Heck, they certainly were with me, when I think about how confused my 20-30 decade was in selecting jobs, education and so on (I am 43 now.)

I think a part of the worry is natural and should just be ignored, just like the thought of what happens if he somehow is in a traffic accident or whatever. There are always extreme scenarios that can and will haunt our minds, for what may happen, and they are, as said, natural but should not be given too much power. It is also good to remember that, as you mentioned, people do a lot of things as children and as youths that aren’t necessarily indicative for how they will act in life as mature adults. I tell myself I will remember this, but I am sure I will forget on some occasions. Even so it is worth reiterating here.

Then there are the sneaky value-based expectations, like about what he wants to do with his life and work-life when he becomes old enough for that to be relevant. I had very high ideals for my own work life (and for my artwork which today is just a hobby), and none of them really came to fruition. I have tried to be very clear with myself that I will not project these ideals onto him (like: get a university education – go help the world or get an otherwise ‘important job’). If he wants to drive a truck, then that is really fine – even if he displays abilities for more. Or that is at least what I tell myself, but I do know in my heart that I will be a little disappointed in such a scenario.

I think maybe it is helpful that we are relatively old parents and that I have gone through an evolution myself with regard to how I value the company of other people. In my early 20s for example I really did not like family get-togethers. I was always focused on how the other members of my family talked about “boring things” and all their little faults (imagined or otherwise). As I grow older I have begun to really look for what we share and what I appreciate in various family members, instead of focusing on what sets us apart. It just works better. I don’t try to sweep big differences under the rug, but I don’t give them too much power either – e.g. political differences.

I believe that lesson at least can help me if my son doesn’t choose a “smart” career or makes some other lifestyle choice later on that really upsets me.

But time will have to put that belief (and promise to myself) to the test.