Have you ever really, really wanted something only to find once you got it that it wasn’t at all what you expected? We build glorious dreams and plans up in our minds until expectations are off the charts. Yet, some of those magnificent dreams end with a sobering letdown we never saw coming.
Crushed expectations can happen in most any area of life. Some follow their chosen career path only to find out they hate it. Others move to a different part of the country with a warmer year-round climate only to discover they can’t tolerate the sweltering summer months. Some spend years saving up for the perfect sports car and are surprised to learn it doesn’t drive quite like they hoped.
When our built-up fantasies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, there’s no shame in admitting we were wrong or in changing our minds. We formed those desires and expectations based on the information we had at the time.
Beauty Turned into a Beast
The first time my husband and I opened the back door of our soon-to-be new home, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was the dream garden I’d always envisioned, complete with a pergola covered in intricately-woven wisteria.
After we moved in, I was so excited to have this romantic climbing beauty in our backyard. The wisteria was gorgeous, lush, and turns out . . . a beast to maintain.
While I’d long envisioned growing wisteria, I never took time to research the plant. But I soon found out each individual vine grows twelve feet in a season. Twelve feet. Every. Single. Vine.
Trimming the new growth and sweeping fallen leaves underneath were constant chores. We couldn’t keep up. Then, we noticed wisteria vines popping up in other areas of the garden. My dream turned into a maintenance nightmare as I tried to manage its aggressive nature.
The beautiful plant was not at all what I expected. Instead of being a source of enjoyment, it became a tremendous cause of frustration. Two years later, the pergola showed signs of instability, so we removed the structure along with the wisteria.
Reframe the Letdown
When we chase a dream that, in the end, doesn’t live up to our expectations, we have two choices. We can hold on and wallow in the disappointment of sunk costs. Or we can accept it, re-evaluate, and change direction.
If we ruminate on the dissatisfaction, we’ll spend unnecessary negative energy focused on wasted time and effort. The more beneficial response is to reframe it as experience and a lesson learned. Once we do, we’re better informed on the road ahead as we chase a new dream.
How have you responded to a time in life when your expectations fell flat? Share in the comments below.