Raise the Bar

When expectations fall short, raise them.

Wait, what?

This is my new personal favorite saying that I made up one day. Allow me to explain.

We live in a world that people like to blame Disney for jading.

There’s no such thing as a Prince Charming!

I’ve never ridden a horse into the sunset!

You said I could be anything and I wanted to be a mermaid and now people are telling me that’s not possible! 

WTF Disney?!

Okay, so that last line is clearly a joke (kinda!) but I like to take a little while to make my points, so bear with me.

It can be so easy as life goes on to feel disappointed by the outcomes we receive. That relationship didn’t live up to what we wanted, our love life hasn’t been anything but a wreck of a series of terrible people, that last job was a total abuse of a cluster f***.

If you’re anything like me, at that point, you start to lower your expectations.

You figure, well, maybe if I don’t set the bar so high I can at least reach it sometimes.

Well, maybe if instead of wanting a good job I just try to find something that pays well and has a decent boss. 

Well, maybe if I just settle for that guy I’m not remotely attracted to, have anything in common with, nor want to date in any way, I can at least have a relationship.

Are you seeing how much we sell ourselves short yet?!

This is how I used to think. Now I refuse to believe it anymore. Over the past several years, things have changed. I’ve realized something pretty important.

Maybe the problem isn’t that I was setting my expectations too high – maybe the real problem was that I was setting them too low.

I was settling – in every sense of the *negative* connotation of the word. Settling for subpar. Settling for second best. Setting these awfully low expectations based on low self esteem for the part of myself that I didn’t like very much.

The first place that shifted was in my relationships. Perhaps it’s because that’s where I reached my breaking point first. One final cheating, lying asshole and that part of myself snapped. I realized I had been settling. Settling for basically what amounted to a dude with perhaps the ability to make me laugh some. Like that was some rare prize.

That’s where I first realized I was setting my expectations WAY too low. I decided to raise them. I was done with the bull shiz, I decided. Done with the lying. Done with the bums who had no direction in life or who thought that love should be given free to everyone with boobs. I was done with the drug addicts and alcoholics and abusers promising to change.

No more betting my heart on promises or potential or hopes of “one day getting the timing right.” I raised the bar. It was time to date people who could be taken at face value, and I mean that in the best possible sense of the word. Not potential or promises but words and the positive actions they led to. Someone who I could look at and see their honesty, their kindness, their loyalty, their good qualities – without searching or having to dig deeper. Someone who treated me amazingly, not just okay. Someone who wanted to spend time with me and did, not just said they would and didn’t.

Someone who was on a path and doing something with their life.

No more losers. No more settling for second place in someone else’s heart.

Just a few short weeks later, I met the man who is now my fiancé. Who, in just eight months, I’ll get to call my husband.

Not because I lowered my expectations. Not because I settled.

But because I raised the freaking bar.

This experience has led me to believe that maybe I should do the same thing on my career path as well. Raise the bar and raise my expectations I mean.

For so many years, I have focused simply on the struggle to make enough money to live. To try to find a work environment that isn’t openly abusive. I would do anything just to make a living and not be abused.

I’m pretty sure that’s what Thomas Jefferson called “inalienable rights.” Ya, I just pulled the America card there folks. Boo-yah!

But seriously, now I look at that and think, those were my only two goals when it came to work?

What about all the writing I want to do, that I told myself I could never achieve and worried myself away from with anxious thoughts whenever I tried? What about the life I wanted to attain and have spent the last years slaving away towards? For so long I never even set those dreams as expectations because, for whatever reason, I convinced myself they were out of reach.

Well look where shooting low got me. It got me pretty low.

After dying recently, all of life takes on a new shade of color. The things that felt so scary before just don’t anymore as the truth that I could’ve died before I did anything I really wanted to within the next stage of my life set in.

Now, here I am against all odds. Maybe I should test my luck and shoot for other things that seem potentially impossible.

Shoot for the mountain top to maybe get the valley. No thanks I’ve been doing that most of my life now.

Now I’m going to shoot for the stars and maybe then I can at least reach the clouds. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? It’s not like it’ll kill me…

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