Expectations vs Reality
Every time I watch the Olympics on TV, I dream about what “could have been.”
- What if I’d stuck with gymnastics as a kid?
- What if I’d learned to ice skate?
- What if my parents had pushed me to be really competitive?
Why do I dream these dreams? Because watching incredible Olympic athletes lets me see the highlights reel of what “being a competitive athlete” is like. And it looks hardcore in the best kind of way: those athletes are strong, confident, and brilliantly talented.
But, you know what? The same thing happens when I watch Grey’s Anatomy. I want what those doctors have. They’re smart and sexy, and their lives seem so exciting and FULL.
Obviously, though, that’s not the reality of being an MD or working in a hospital.
- Hospital doctors often work LONG, uncomfortable shifts.
- They spend a large amount of their time doing paperwork.
- Most doctors are not nearly as attractive as Patrick Dempsey. (It’s statistically impossible.)
But, for some reason, when I watch Grey’s Anatomy, I forget all that. I see the good, the exciting, the imaginary fulfillment of the characters, and I start wondering if it’s too late to go to medical school.
(Seriously, though, is it?)
Can you relate? Do you get inspired by others, and at the same time feel like you’re somehow missing out?
Well, let me tell you a little secret: your perception of “success” is also based on a highlight reel.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Life is awesome, amazing, beautiful, and (as I often say), way better than Instagram could ever show.
But, if you’re thinking other people have it better than you because they’re famous, wealthy, brilliant, or stunningly gorgeous… Well, you can save yourself the envy, because [regardless of who you are or what you do] life is still life.
There are still ups and downs. YES, there is joy, and excitement, and love – but there is also stress, fear, and heartbreak. And plenty of BOREDOM.
(That might be one of the biggest myths about being successful, really — that life becomes constantly exciting and incredibly interesting.
But life is still life. Wednesday mornings still feel like Wednesday mornings.)
When you turned 7 years old, did you feel wildly different than you’d felt at age 6?
Of course not.
But, so often, we give up happiness today for the imaginary happiness of a future day when we will have “arrived” or “finally made it.”
I’m not telling you this because I’ve been so fortunate as to reach some lofty pinnacle of success, but simply because, well, I’ve found myself in different places over the past few years.
- I’ve been beyond broke — and I’ve had $100,000 in the bank.
- I’ve had a “network” limited to a handful of friends — and I’ve had an audience of hundreds of thousands.
- I’ve been a homeowner, renter, and traveling nomad.
Before my audience grew, I expected that having hundreds of thousands of followers would mean:
- My life would look like a magazine.
- Every day would be full of exciting work.
- Relaxing would be luxurious.
- I’d regularly travel to exotic locations.
And then… it happened! My audience grew, my business grew, my income streams grew — but the reality of this new life was a lot different than what I’d anticipated. A lot of things are still the same as always:
- My house still gets messy.
- My children still need parenting.
- Work is still fun, boring, exciting, and sometimes stressful.
- Relaxing still looks like curling up with a book and a cup of tea.
- We don’t travel all that much… because traveling with kids is a LOT of work.
I thought that things would get better, prettier, more fun, and more exciting — but also harder and more stressful, because I’d heard that playing bigger means you have to deal with bigger problems.
At least for me, though, this hasn’t been the case. Yes, there are still stressful days, but they aren’t any worse then before — and, if anything, I feel like I’m learning how to handle life’s challenges in much better ways.
Even though many things are the same, there are also a lot of new blessings:
- complete control over my own schedule = a clean & clear calendar
- way more time to spend with my kids
- money to fix random problems = a lot less stress
- the positive way my character’s being challenged to grow to become a steward of these resources
Success isn’t as sexy as Instagram or Entrepreneur magazine make it look — but it’s also not as scary. I run a business, and it’s fun. It earns me a living. I like it, and I’m really thankful for it. But… it’s just a thing I do. Ultimately, I’m still me. I still experience all the regular human emotions that all humans experience.
Your expectations might not match reality, but that’s okay. The distance between where you are right now and where you want to be isn’t as far as it might seem.