Expectations, hopes and dreams

comments 28

They drive us. They motivate us to better ourselves. They are definitely good things in my book.

But sometimes those expectations and dreams are never met let alone exceeded. You’ve then got to be content with setting lower expectations and dreaming a little smaller. Surely there’s nothing wrong with doing that, right?

Now I wouldn’t say that I had my life mapped out in front of me. But I did have certain expectations about where I’d like be by when and what I’d be doing. Let’s call them goals. Little life goals. Once we’ve reached one, set the next and keep going.

My twenties haven’t been all I’d hoped they’d be. Back in my teen years I had all sorts of allusions as to where I’d be and what I’d be doing. For years I was convinced I was going to be a doctor. Heck, not just a doctor, a surgeon. Orthopaedic surgeon. But my school deemed my intelligence unworthy of the task of medicine at university.

That hurt. Big time. But looking back, it was actually fairly easy for me to re-assess my position and just roll with it and keep going. Wasn’t as easy for those around me whose own hopes and expectations for me were dashed. But eventually they got there too. (And actually now, I’m grateful I didn’t go down the medicine route. 6 years+ of studying and then some? No thanks. So it all worked out.)

As I’m getting older (I’m not saying that I am old, just saying that I’m older than I was as a teenager, yeah?) I’m finding it a little harder to just roll with it. Mostly because all those little milestones that I set myself, feel like they’re not being met. They’re just whizzing past me. But I’m struggling to figure out what I can do to make them happen. And struggling to believe I can get some of them met.

If you asked 18-year-old Jaina where she saw herself in 10 years time I guarantee she wouldn’t say what I’m doing and where I am now. I’m not saying that necessarily in a bad way. Were the expectations of my 18-year-old self too high for my 28-year-old self? Sometimes I miss those somewhat carefree days.

This is one of those posts where I’m thinking out aloud. Making sense of the mess that’s currently in my head. Feel free to weigh in on your own hopes, expectations and dreams and whether they’ve worked out or not.


  1. When I was 18 I thought I’d be married with a kid by the time I was 25. Still hasn’t happened and I’m 28 soon. But to be honest, my 18 year old self was a completely different and more naive person than my 27 year old self. I’m still naive at times, but life’s made me a little harder and a little more alert.

    • I can relate to that. I think my 18 year old self shared some of your 18 year old’s naivety.

      It’s sort of reassuring to know that there are lots of us in our twenties in the same boat.

  2. I do sometimes think you’re being way too harsh on yourself. And that can be a good thing, as it will keep you motivated and driven, but I do also think it can a little destructive.

    There are very few people of your age who are financially stable with their own house, great job, great job potential, and amazing family and friends (if I do say so myself).

    I think 18 year old Jaina would look at you at think you’re pretty awesome.

    • I know I’m being too harsh on myself. For as long as I can remember I’ve always set myself pretty high expectations. Before I was pretty good at meeting them.

      I do hope 18 year old me is happily surprised at where I am now.

  3. low expectations is a good thing, then you don’t disappoint yourself. My former self had other dreams as a teenager too, and life kind of turned those upside down also, but you can’t live in the past, and just have to deal with the present/future. The image I had of myself and what I was capable of was wrong, but I guess that happens. With experience you learn who you are, which I think is a more valuable resource than an inexperienced view of yourself.No need to stress yourself out 🙂

    • It’s been drummed into me that setting low expectations is a bad thing. One of those things you grow up with and can never shake. Though, I do partially agree in the never disappoint yourself aspect.

      Wonder how many people out there follow the path that they mentally mapped out for themselves.

      • For me, big dreams make me lazy, because I can always put it off until tomorrow. When I say low expectations, what I’m getting out are realistic, achievable, day-to- day goals.

        Sure, dreams can keep you going, but I think the longer you go without them happening, the more stressed you can become, and it hurts your confidence. That’s just my opinion.
        It sounds cliché, but reaching small milestones every day can boost your self-esteem. Dreams have to be obtainable.Don’t be discouraged, its ok to dream big. Nobody would get anywhere if they didn’t try 🙂

        How many follow the path that they mentally mapped out? No idea!

  4. I think you and I think a lot the same way, so I really do get where you’re coming from, Jaina. I’m definitely not where I thought or hoped I would be at 24, and it’s frustrating. Perhaps my expectations were set too high when I was younger, and I’ve fallen into the same trap of losing that carefree spirit and wishing things had turned out differently.

    My take is that you get what you put into it. And some things I’ve done half-assed, and the reward hasn’t been as great. Other things I’ve put my whole heart into, and yet still the take away doesn’t match. But I guess I’m assured at the end of the day that if I do everything possible, my very best, that I can’t possibly have a regret, even when the outcome doesn’t meet my expectations.

    I’m all about having only one life to live, so I need to do the most I can possibly do with it. And yet at the same time, I feel like I have to enjoy moments where I’m not working towards something and just go out and have a good time, whether I’m by myself, with family, or with friends. It’s all about a balance. You should keep striving for great things, but not put so much pressure on yourself that you can’t appreciate where you are now. I’m sure you’ve done plenty of great things, but something we’re our own biggest critics.

    Be calm, and carry on. At least, that’s what I try to do. Most of the time 🙂

    • “we’re our own biggest critics” – That is most definitely true.

      Thing is if you don’t set high expectations then surely you won’t strive to really do well? I guess it’s a double edged sword.

      I will endeavour to be calm and carry on. What else can you do?

  5. I really relate to this post, I too am 28 and have found myself recently looking back and wondering where my twenties have gone.

    It is kind of scary, approaching thirty and not being where you thought you would, I admit, but I don’t think you should worry about it too much, most peoples twenties don’t turn out how they hoped; mine included, but you have to look forward. I have after ten years finally reached a level of maturity where I can start to see where I want to go in life and the best way to get there and the last person I would ever want to have planning my future is the 18 year old me.

    I didn’t really have a clue about what I wanted to do when I was growing up; I had only the vaguest of notions that I was going to be either a musician or a film director, perfectly sensible and realistic career options for a sixteen year old. After drifting academically, doing well but only putting in the minimum effort, I went to Uni to study film, hated it, dropped out and started living a real life.

    It was probably the best thing I could have done.

    I have found it is best not to force things in life, stuff happens, don’t get hung up on targets or expectations just live and see where life takes you, the milestones will appear in good time and you will feel better for it, I promise.

    • People keep telling me to do this and yet I still find it hard to actually do.

      It is calming to know that other later-twenties people out there are crammed into the same boat. It’s just a very strange feeling to remember that back then you had such a conviction of what you wanted to do and where you’d be. Wondering where the conviction is gone!

      Still, I need to learn to just let things happen. I get impatient though….

      • Remember, patience is a virtue.

        I’m sure whatever plans you have made will happen sooner rather than later, so don’t beat yourself up too much!

  6. Ahah, wait ’til you are in your upper 30s and see your dreams are just… well, dreams. Just kidding, no, keep on dreaming girl. Like Kris said, “we’re our own biggest critics” and I think we ought to also reflect on what we did right and just keep going on doing them as well as look at what else we could improve. Just ’cause you’re not a surgeon doesn’t mean your life isn’t perfect. Btw, I’m surprised you didn’t dream of becoming a photographer ’cause I think you have achieved that 😀

    • If only there was a switch in us that would stop us being our own worst critics! I guess that critic is a little smaller/bigger in everyone.

      I love photography. I wish I could do more of it. Contemplating finding a local workshop or course to help me in it….

  7. So is life Jaina. I think it’s the same for just about everyone. As long as you keep your head up and work on bettering yourself and trying to achieve as much as possible, I’m sure things will turn out just fine! 😀

  8. I hear you buddy! I always thought I was just going to become a film director and it would be easy but then I got lazy and wasted about ten years doing silly things and suddenly I’m thirty and a teacher. I’ve given myself till I have kids to get into a job I WANT to do otherwise I give up.

  9. Jaina, I’ve been following your blog regularly for several months, and one of the things I love about it is that some of your posts are so personal. I love that. I feel like I know you!

    Anyway, I had to chime in on this one because I know just how you’re feeling. I’m a little older than you — 34 — and even at this age, I sometimes wonder what life’s really about. I spent a lot of time this month away from TV, movies, the blog, etc., and looked away from the computer and TV screen. It really gave me a chance to appreciate what I have and search for what I’m missing.

    You’re a wonderful writer and a great talent. Wish I really did know you.

    Keep on dreamin’, kid. Just don’t forget to hit the pause button every now and then.

    • I think the day we stop wondering what life is about would be a sad day, no?

      The pause button’s as important as the play. That is definitely true.

      Thanks for stopping by, Dave 🙂

  10. Jaina, I know exactly what you mean. I have had big dreams since I was a teenager and throughout college — hell, I still do! I’m only four years removed from college, but I’m already in a completely different field than what I went to school for, and I’m not in the financial position I was hoping for back then. But, the flexibility that I have now gives me hope for the future, and I sense something big is going to happen soon for me.

    I feel you’re on that verge, too, and you’re making awesome steps by starting your own business. The sky’s the limit, Jaina!

    • Cheers Eric. It’s always reassuring to know that others are in the same position as you. Guess we all have to be flexible to the way our lives change in front of us.

      And thanks for the support!

  11. It’s important to dream and set goals, but often times life throws curve balls and you gotta roll with them. I never thought I’d move from my hometown, and it was very stressful to, but I think our family is happy we did. I hope that you can dream up new goals, probably better/more satisfying/more “you” goals now at 28 than you could at 18. I know my goals have changed but I’m happy with that because they suit me better.

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