Great expectations - mind the gap!
This is the thing that has really been hitting close to home recently – expectations, illusions and projections. Which is exactly how I know it’s time to write about it and how I know it’s going to be hugely uncomfortable!
Have you ever met someone, be it a friend or a girl/man and you thought, “Wow, they are perfect!! We understand each other, we agree on everything, this is completely effortless, everything about them is fantastic, they’ll be my best friend/best lover/best partner forever and there’s zero effort involved!!” Or a business that you wanted to start for years and then finally do it and think to yourself – “This is perfect, I love everything about it, I love this fantastic thing I’ve created, being responsible for my own fate and making it work!!” Feels incredible, right?
And then something happens. Some time goes by. You suddenly see that new contracts for your business are much harder to come by than what you previously anticipated, that working for yourself and managing your own time is much trickier than you thought and the financial uncertainty associated with your new venture is keeping you up at night.
And what about all the literature and movies focused on perfect love stories of happily ever after? Because a couple of months to a year into the perfect love story you suddenly realize that your perfect woman/man is also a human being who does things that tick you off – be it throwing socks all over the house or their incessant love for the Game of Thrones (apologies to the Game of Thrones lovers out there, no harm intended). And you realize that all those perfect like features you projected on them aren’t necessarily true.
So this is when you meet the real person. And this is when things get really exciting as it gives you a chance to really get to know and see them as them and not a projection of yourself. But what happens more often than I’d like to admit - we freak out, see the things we don’t like in them and run away quickly. My aha - moment in all of this is that the things we very often begin to see and dislike in the other are the things we see and dislike in ourselves. Our partners are our mirrors that we look in. And I know, I know.. it’s super cliché and common sense but I think it’s much harder to really feel it than to understand it.
I’ve read this amazing book by Jorge Bucay and Silvia Salinas – “Loving oneself with open eyes”, written in the form of a novel by two Argentinian psychotherapists and writers who devoted a lot of their time studying relationships. I absolutely loved it, a very light and a deep read all at the same time. And they really hammered this point home. Whenever we try to run away from ourselves into a relationship problems arise. Whenever we believe a relationship will cure our anxieties, boredom, lack of meaning in our lives and we choose someone with those expectations, we inevitably end up hating that person. The meaning of a relationship is not the salvation but the contact. The contacts. Me with you. You with me. Us with the world.
It’s a pretty scary thought at first but it’s also a pretty awesome one when we really think about it. It’s actually quite liberating – we don’t have to run away from ourselves into a relationship but all is in our power of accepting ourselves and we can simply enjoy each other’s company. Now that is something to look forward to! So my big takeaway in all of this is - before getting into any relationships I made it my business to get to know myself, my wants and needs, my "shadow side" as well as understanding of what it is I want from said relationship.