Dash those Expectations!

by | Dec 1, 2021

As the holiday season approaches, so does the pressure to have everything be “perfect,” that is, according the script in your head. Just the right gifts, guests, parties, decorations, celebrations, and so forth. It can cause a tremendous amount of needless stress and anxiety. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a Hallmark world. The real world is often messy and definitely NOT perfect. There’s a word for that kind of disappointment: perfectionism. Perfectionism can look at what’s perfectly good, and ruin it with often unrealistic visions of whatever your expectations of absolutely perfect may be.

Your expectations may be understandable, for oh so many reasons. But usually, so-called “perfect” scenarios are never-gonna-happen-like-that, nonetheless.

For years I sank deeply into those expectation-driven emotional potholes during the holidays. I’d be hoping for this and that in terms of relationships, or excitement, or gifts or outright miracles. It never worked out the way I’d wanted, although I had some pretty nice moments throughout my less-than-stellar holidays.

Finally, I realized the common denominator was … me. Me and my over-the-top-idealistic expectations of perfection. So I decided to change. I let go of my control-freak ways and honestly, had a lot more fun. At least for the holidays, I began taking life more as it came to me, rather than trying to bend it to my will. My holiday seasons have been much less stressful and more meaningful ever since.

Believe it or not, it can work the same way with your writing.

You have a favorite writer. Your writing doesn’t sound like theirs. You thought it would be easier. You thought it wouldn’t take so long. You thought … you thought … you thought … do you notice a pattern here, along with your growing frustration? Stop thinking about how it’s going to be. Start thinking instead about how it’s shaping up. There’s a reason they call it work. If you want to write something more meaningful than a quick email, don’t be surprised that it’s going to take some effort. It starts out messy. Awful, in fact. That’s normal. Just keep working with it, as a potter works with clay, adding a little more here, tapering off a little bit there. Until it’s finally something that you’re pleased with. Allow yourself to let go of the stress of how you want it to turn out and accept that it’s a process. Then allow yourself to trust that process, and even begin to enjoy it.

Above all, keep writing.