One of the greatest lessons I learned during college was not from college itself, but from a dear friend of mine.
Throughout the semester I would run myself ragged, keeping up with classes and various club duties, working at internships and a job and attempting to also have a social life. I felt like I was constantly going out of my way for other people, therefore neglecting my own needs. When all this started to really weigh upon me, I became irritated. Why didn’t anyone see that even though I tried to act like I didn’t need help with things, I really would greatly appreciate some?
What better way to let out these frustrations than with a venting session. After telling my friend all about the troubles I was having, he simply said to me, “That’s your problem. You can’t assume things.” Whoa… what? Of course I can. Everyone does it. And then… mindblown.
You can’t live with expectations or assumptions. You can’t expect people to know how you’re feeling, what you want, or what you need, and then assume that they will do what you want or need them to do. We go through life playing this game, with family, friends, co-workers, and significant others. We want people to know what we want and need, often without verbalizing these to them. This becomes especially true with those who are closest to us. We think that being so close and knowing someone so well, they should just know when we are having a bad day or know the remedy to cheer us up. They should know when we need a hug or a shoulder to cry on. We feel they know so much, we expect it. We expect them to know these things. And then we assume that they will do want we want or need them to do. And this mindset only sets you up for failure.
Sure, there are some people in your life that can and will know these things. They will know the joke to make you laugh or the distance you need during difficult times. But not all. And this doesn’t always mean a lack of caring on their part. They might just honestly be unable to tell.
When an expectation is met, then we are satisfied. We are filled with a feeling of ‘yes, everything is right in the world.’ If an expectation is not met, then we are annoyed and irritated. Why didn’t he/she do this or that. They should’ve known! But they don’t know. How could they? Especially if you didn’t tell them.
During trying times I used to expect my friends and family to just know how I was feeling. Isn’t it obvious I’m drained and just want a hot cup of tea? Isn’t it obvious I’m sad and need someone to talk to? Isn’t it obvious I want someone to help me out? No, none of that is obvious. Maybe to me in my mind, but no one actually knows anything I am thinking or feeling, unless I tell them. I am the one who has to initiate my wants or needs. I am the one who has to ask for a hug. I am the one who needs to ask for a shoulder to cry on. I am the one who should say I want a cup of tea, or need to talk to someone, or would like help with something.
Surely, it is wonderful when someone can just tell. But that does not always happen, and we cannot get angry or blame others when they just don’t know. And if they do know and just don’t do anything about it? Well, not everyone is a people-pleaser.
Don’t live with expectations or assumptions of people. Don’t assume your professor knows you were up late with your sick grandmother. Don’t assume the angry customer behind the counter didn’t just get laid off. Don’t assume your missing phone was taken by a reckless thief.
Don’t expect, and don’t assume, and you will be pleasantly surprised by all those around you.