The other day, I was thinking about the movie 500 Days of Summer; specifically, the expectations v. reality sequence (if you haven't seen the film, go watch it immediately and come back to this later). I also knew I wanted to do a specific journal blog post for Christmas. My brain, as it usually does, entered analysis mode and realized the concept of expectations vs. reality and the holiday season are actually intrinsically linked.
Here's my reasoning: Excluding perhaps Valentine's Day, there is no other time of year when expectations are so high. Actually, the bar is even higher than Valentine's Day because everyone is expected a lot of around the holidays. We just HAVE to bust the bank buying the best presents, we HAVE to whip up a flawless gourmet meal and, let's not forget we HAVE to be merry as f&*k.
With high expectations comes high risk. The risk of being disappointed exponentially increases parabolically to the rise of expectations. The holiday season, which should be a time of simple pleasures, therefore can become a minefield when things don't go exactly as planned. And this is a time when I would like to point out that things happening like we plan them is about the highest expectation anyone could ever have.
I feel like it's really important for me as a social media influencer/blogger/professional at making everything appear perfect on my little corner of the internet, to dispel the depth of facade. Social media in general sets us up for so much disappointment when we don't see our lives going the sparkly, rose-colored way of our favorite Instagram feeds. I take time to point this out now close to Christmas because this is a season where idealism takes to the forefront. It's the season of glittering engagement rings, perfectly "candid" happy family shots, and artfully arranged flat-lays of gifts surrounded by twinkling lights.
While I do a lot to add to this enviable facade, I am here to try to do my part by telling you that social media should be an inspiration not a comparison. Your friend who shows off her flashy new engagement ring probably went through several Christmases waiting her turn. The perfect family photo probably took a million tries to perfect, taking away from time that could have been spent in non-posed laughter. And those gifts and Christmas lights didn't splay themselves out so artfully--trust me.
Influencer is a new word in my vocabulary, and I think it is a burgeoning field of lifestyle and work that is so new to everyone that it is misunderstood. Feelings of jealousy and accusations of conceitedness aside, I think it's important as new careers brought forth by technology become a part of our lives, that we learn how they affect us individually, and how to keep that effect from being toxic (momentary pause while I celebrate the correct use of affect/effect in one sentence #englishmajorwins). So, this season, challenge yourself--when you see these "perfect" lives playing out on your social media, try to be inspired by the happiness of others or the beauty of the season.
Ok, I understand this last piece might sound pessimistic, but I'm going to go for it anyway since it's a philosophy I've lived my life by for quite some time. Stop having expectations. To understand this, it's important to understand the difference between expectations and standards. For instance, it's a standard to be able to feel comfortable that your bf won't cheat on you--it's a given. It's an expectation to feel the need for him to propose THIS Christmas, romantically, with a 2 karat diamond from Tiffany's. Set that expectation and not only do you have a high chance of being disappointed next weekend, but you also cheat yourself out of the magic of the moment that he chooses to give to you. Sorry this post is so engagement heavy, but 'tis the season for popping the question and I know (and have been there myself, in the past) the frustration that can arise during this time.
Expectations vs. Standards. Try it, I challenge you. Once you do, I almost guarantee you are going to find moments more magical and special when they are completely organic and not something you stress over waiting for it to happen. This applies to everything--your relationship, Christmas gifts, the holiday dinner you don't want to screw up. Relax. Besides, the Christmas dinners everyone remembers are the ones where you left the eggs out of the pumpkin pie, your uncle ate all the duck, or you were too sick to cook so you had to trust the mashed potato-making to your crazy younger brother (all true stories, btw).