I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life and expectations.
As little kids, we have these fantasies of what we will “be” when we grow up. I, for one, wanted to be a pop singer. (It was short-lived … I am completely tone-deaf).
I never said, “I want to be a PR manager at a digital agency.” (Digital was not even part of our vocabulary then!)
I dreamed big, though … studied hard in high school, got great internships in marketing and PR in college, studied abroad in Argentina, got my master’s degree in public communication, went on to teach English in El Salvador, and then began my career as a PR professional. All my roads did lead to Rome … except I didn’t really know it at the time. I was just living it.
I didn’t really have “expectations” for my career or how my personal life would play out, either. As a little girl playing with Barbie and Ken, I figured “someday” I would get married and have children — but I didn’t expect it to happen at a certain time and certainly had no idea who my “Ken” would be. Of course I felt blessed when I did meet my Ken — and, though our relationship was unconventional as could be (international long-distance for five years) — we knew we were meant to be.
I really think life is about choices. It doesn’t matter what choice you’re making, whether it’s which cereal to eat for breakfast, which school to send your child to, which car you buy, which person you date … all have potential positive and negative repercussions. There are “better” choices, to be sure. But “better” is subjective.
And what seems like a good decision now might, in retrospect, not be such a good decision … Likewise, one bad decision could lead to some really positive changes. After all, life is one giant learning curve.
I think all too often we get caught up in expectations of how life “should” be or “could” be but really, while we’re thinking about this, life is passing us by. When I think back to my dark days of disordered eating — the anxiousness, the stress, the paranoia of missing a workout or some accidental oil on my eggs … I was wasting time. Precious time, with those I loved.
Back then, I wasn’t able to focus on how my cute husband is when he applies cream-cheese to his bagel, slowly, one bite at a time, at the breakfast table … because I was so preoccupied with measuring the cream cheese on my plate. I wasn’t able to focus on how strong I felt after a good sweat session because I was obsessed with the calorie burn showing on my heart rate monitor; heaven forbid I didn’t hit X calories. I wasn’t able to enjoy conversation with the girls because I was adding up the calories of our shared dessert in my mind. And I wasn’t able to relish the notion of sleeping in on vacation because I “had” to get in a run before dawn. Just “had” to.
Of course, I never “expected” disordered eating to come about from successful weight loss … but it did. And I never “expected” to be a body image advocate or an “expert” on disordered eating recovery. But that was to be my reality. And I feel like, given the circumstances that got me here, I’ve embraced that role and used it for good.
Fortunately, as the quote posted in this post shows, a life of misery and obsession was NOT how my story ended. And for that, I’m eternally grateful: to my family, my therapist at the time, my friends … for helping me get out of my dark place. For helping me see the light. For helping me realize that, though this might not be the case for everyone with an eating disorder or disordered eating issues … it WAS a choice I was making. And I, alone, had the power to change it. To be bigger than it. To move on and upward from it.
I love being able to use this platform (and various others) to raise awareness. If nothing else, it shows that — although I didn’t expect to be in this position, I’m grateful for the negative experience I had because I can turn it into something good for someone else. Someone who is waiting to change his or her story.
We all have the power to do that. It’s in ourselves. And the sooner the better because, as a friend and I discussed recently, life is moving at warp speed and time doesn’t stand still for a second. We only get 24 hours in a day; let’s make them count.
In spite of life’s trials and tribulations, I feel like I’m exactly where I should be.
How about you? How do you deal with expectations? Have you been in a bad situation that, unexpectedly, led to positive results?