Great Expectations

I would rather read a book about Dickens than one he wrote himself.  Maybe that is a natural aversion to classics because of the reading we were forced to do in school, maybe it’s laziness or simply a matter of taste. Maybe it is that as a classic myself now, I no longer need to pretend to be the intellectual I sometimes thought I was when younger.

Although it is true I once had great expectations, I am now older and wiser and have learnt that expectations are often too weighty to be bothered carrying forever. Birthdays do this to us. Make us ponder the wotifs, the forks in the road taken or missed.  Often I wonder what would have happened had I just let the wind fill my sails and drifted not caring where I went.   There would have been good and bad in that, but maybe, just maybe, the expectations of others may not have been so warmly embraced by me.   And as I sit here thinking again, it seems to me that it was not my own great expectations that shaped who I am but the ones I soaked up from others in my life.

And I guess with that riddle still to be answered my whole midlife journey continues.

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Great Expectations


It’s been a big week. My daughter has been with us full time and it couldn’t have been better. But there was also the criticisms of once good friends and the truth from ex family members. And as usual those things did get me thinking.

I like the metaphor of life being like a river with it’s ebbs and flows, it’s twists and turns, the rapids of white water and the sluggardness of the backwaters. Midlife for me was being caught in the backwater and it is a difficult thing to explain how that feels. You can have all the desire in the world to move forward but that is impossible until certain revelations come, until some of that baggage we have been carrying is ejected and left on the bank, so that we can go forward with a lighter load.

It is interesting that some people believe that I should have been able to just get back out into the current and keep going. Those who actually recognise a midlife episode will know that for many that is not possible. The pondering, the questioning and the ultimate truth come in their own time and at their own pace. Force it and the current might bring you down as soon as you get to that next bend in the river.

In the past week I have learnt that E and my mate and his wife had great expectations about the way I should have behaved. I failed their expectations, but I have wondered if they actually had any right to place those upon me. Does anybody really have the right to expect people to behave in a manner that fits with their beliefs? In these instances I have been told that it was not what I did, but the fact that I did not act to a retrospective timetable that they believe I should have been governed by. But none of them were in the river with me, they were all paddling their own course. None, not a single one of my friends, actually took the time to stop by and ask how I was getting on, whether I needed help, or even just take the time to stroll along the bank with me. So in not taking that time what criteria do they judge me by? None have heard my story.

So here is my advice. If you place expectations on other people and they fail to live up to them, understand that they were yours in the first place. If you make presumptions about people and they don’t conform to those presumptions do not judge them too harshly. Recognise that people can be in dark places and are able to hide the fact that they are wandering lost to everyone, even those who think they know them best. Understand that people change, that change can be a positive thing even when it springs from what appears to be very negative situations. But also understand that change occurs at its own pace, you have no right to impose your timetable on anyone else. And finally, if you know that a friend is struggling, offer a hand, it is sometimes enough that your friend knows you are there for them even if they don’t immediately take up the offer.

Great Expectations


It’s been a big week. My daughter has been with us full time and it couldn’t have been better. But there was also the criticisms of once good friends and the truth from ex family members. And as usual those things did get me thinking.

I like the metaphor of life being like a river with it’s ebbs and flows, it’s twists and turns, the rapids of white water and the sluggardness of the backwaters. Midlife for me was being caught in the backwater and it is a difficult thing to explain how that feels. You can have all the desire in the world to move forward but that is impossible until certain revelations come, until some of that baggage we have been carrying is ejected and left on the bank, so that we can go forward with a lighter load.

It is interesting that some people believe that I should have been able to just get back out into the current and keep going. Those who actually recognise a midlife episode will know that for many that is not possible. The pondering, the questioning and the ultimate truth come in their own time and at their own pace. Force it and the current might bring you down as soon as you get to that next bend in the river.

In the past week I have learnt that E and my mate and his wife had great expectations about the way I should have behaved. I failed their expectations, but I have wondered if they actually had any right to place those upon me. Does anybody really have the right to expect people to behave in a manner that fits with their beliefs? In these instances I have been told that it was not what I did, but the fact that I did not act to a retrospective timetable that they believe I should have been governed by. But none of them were in the river with me, they were all paddling their own course. None, not a single one of my friends, actually took the time to stop by and ask how I was getting on, whether I needed help, or even just take the time to stroll along the bank with me. So in not taking that time what criteria do they judge me by? None have heard my story.

So here is my advice. If you place expectations on other people and they fail to live up to them, understand that they were yours in the first place. If you make presumptions about people and they don’t conform to those presumptions do not judge them too harshly. Recognise that people can be in dark places and are able to hide the fact that they are wandering lost to everyone, even those who think they know them best. Understand that people change, that change can be a positive thing even when it springs from what appears to be very negative situations. But also understand that change occurs at its own pace, you have no right to impose your timetable on anyone else. And finally, if you know that a friend is struggling, offer a hand, it is sometimes enough that your friend knows you are there for them even if they don’t immediately take up the offer.

Great Expectations


It’s been a big week. My daughter has been with us full time and it couldn’t have been better. But there was also the criticisms of once good friends and the truth from ex family members. And as usual those things did get me thinking.

I like the metaphor of life being like a river with it’s ebbs and flows, it’s twists and turns, the rapids of white water and the sluggardness of the backwaters. Midlife for me was being caught in the backwater and it is a difficult thing to explain how that feels. You can have all the desire in the world to move forward but that is impossible until certain revelations come, until some of that baggage we have been carrying is ejected and left on the bank, so that we can go forward with a lighter load.

It is interesting that some people believe that I should have been able to just get back out into the current and keep going. Those who actually recognise a midlife episode will know that for many that is not possible. The pondering, the questioning and the ultimate truth come in their own time and at their own pace. Force it and the current might bring you down as soon as you get to that next bend in the river.

In the past week I have learnt that E and my mate and his wife had great expectations about the way I should have behaved. I failed their expectations, but I have wondered if they actually had any right to place those upon me. Does anybody really have the right to expect people to behave in a manner that fits with their beliefs? In these instances I have been told that it was not what I did, but the fact that I did not act to a retrospective timetable that they believe I should have been governed by. But none of them were in the river with me, they were all paddling their own course. None, not a single one of my friends, actually took the time to stop by and ask how I was getting on, whether I needed help, or even just take the time to stroll along the bank with me. So in not taking that time what criteria do they judge me by? None have heard my story.

So here is my advice. If you place expectations on other people and they fail to live up to them, understand that they were yours in the first place. If you make presumptions about people and they don’t conform to those presumptions do not judge them too harshly. Recognise that people can be in dark places and are able to hide the fact that they are wandering lost to everyone, even those who think they know them best. Understand that people change, that change can be a positive thing even when it springs from what appears to be very negative situations. But also understand that change occurs at its own pace, you have no right to impose your timetable on anyone else. And finally, if you know that a friend is struggling, offer a hand, it is sometimes enough that your friend knows you are there for them even if they don’t immediately take up the offer.

Your Parents Must Be So Proud…

Skipper at My Life Starts at Forty has written a post with the title “Your parents must be proud…” in which she states that she believed she could never live up to the expectations of the comment and as a result rebelled to make her own way.

I lived with people saying much the same thing to me as a kid or having Mum in particular saying that other people had told her she should be proud of me. I was never sure why that was the case. But I did feel the weight of expectation, always scared to speak my mind or disobey. If I was told to be home at 11pm I made damn sure I was.

But was it really fear or a desire by me to live up to the expectations of other people? I was told around 10 years old that I was the man of the house and I had to look after my mother and sisters. I have spent the last few years trying to figure out what that meant. Unlike Skipper I didn’t rebel, I conformed, maybe that made people proud of me, maybe it turned me into the boring anti-social nerd I sometimes feel I am.

Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
Charlotte Bronte


And perhaps not only the event but the life itself will not match the expectation in the long term. I find myself wondering about how my kids will turn out, whether they will succeed or not in whatever they may choose to do, and I try very hard not to put the weight of my own expectations on them like I had placed on me. Whilst I hope that things will turn out better for them than perhaps they have for me, we all make our own way, with our own mistakes. Hopefully when we fall someone will be there to offer their hand and help us up. But only if we want it.

So whilst I think that, unlike Skipper, I tried way too hard to live up to other people’s expectations with a desire, if not to make them proud, at least not to disappoint them, I hope that my kids escape the need to think they owe me that. At the end of the day I’ll be proud of them anyway.

Your Parents Must Be So Proud…

Skipper at My Life Starts at Forty has written a post with the title “Your parents must be proud…” in which she states that she believed she could never live up to the expectations of the comment and as a result rebelled to make her own way.

I lived with people saying much the same thing to me as a kid or having Mum in particular saying that other people had told her she should be proud of me. I was never sure why that was the case. But I did feel the weight of expectation, always scared to speak my mind or disobey. If I was told to be home at 11pm I made damn sure I was.

But was it really fear or a desire by me to live up to the expectations of other people? I was told around 10 years old that I was the man of the house and I had to look after my mother and sisters. I have spent the last few years trying to figure out what that meant. Unlike Skipper I didn’t rebel, I conformed, maybe that made people proud of me, maybe it turned me into the boring anti-social nerd I sometimes feel I am.

Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
Charlotte Bronte


And perhaps not only the event but the life itself will not match the expectation in the long term. I find myself wondering about how my kids will turn out, whether they will succeed or not in whatever they may choose to do, and I try very hard not to put the weight of my own expectations on them like I had placed on me. Whilst I hope that things will turn out better for them than perhaps they have for me, we all make our own way, with our own mistakes. Hopefully when we fall someone will be there to offer their hand and help us up. But only if we want it.

So whilst I think that, unlike Skipper, I tried way too hard to live up to other people’s expectations with a desire, if not to make them proud, at least not to disappoint them, I hope that my kids escape the need to think they owe me that. At the end of the day I’ll be proud of them anyway.

Your Parents Must Be So Proud…

Skipper at My Life Starts at Forty has written a post with the title “Your parents must be proud…” in which she states that she believed she could never live up to the expectations of the comment and as a result rebelled to make her own way.

I lived with people saying much the same thing to me as a kid or having Mum in particular saying that other people had told her she should be proud of me. I was never sure why that was the case. But I did feel the weight of expectation, always scared to speak my mind or disobey. If I was told to be home at 11pm I made damn sure I was.

But was it really fear or a desire by me to live up to the expectations of other people? I was told around 10 years old that I was the man of the house and I had to look after my mother and sisters. I have spent the last few years trying to figure out what that meant. Unlike Skipper I didn’t rebel, I conformed, maybe that made people proud of me, maybe it turned me into the boring anti-social nerd I sometimes feel I am.

Life is so constructed, that the event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.
Charlotte Bronte


And perhaps not only the event but the life itself will not match the expectation in the long term. I find myself wondering about how my kids will turn out, whether they will succeed or not in whatever they may choose to do, and I try very hard not to put the weight of my own expectations on them like I had placed on me. Whilst I hope that things will turn out better for them than perhaps they have for me, we all make our own way, with our own mistakes. Hopefully when we fall someone will be there to offer their hand and help us up. But only if we want it.

So whilst I think that, unlike Skipper, I tried way too hard to live up to other people’s expectations with a desire, if not to make them proud, at least not to disappoint them, I hope that my kids escape the need to think they owe me that. At the end of the day I’ll be proud of them anyway.