Why Expectations Suck
Every day there are expectations of us that we (typically) strive to live up to. There are simple ones that are fairly obvious. For example, it is pretty much expected that you will get out of bed and go to your job, or to class, or whatever is part of your normal routine on a daily basis. Then there are other expectations that we set for ourselves that may not be quite as easy to achieve. For people like me – type A, perfectionists, over-achievers, *cough* dietitians, generally – these expectations can be somewhat unrealistic on occasion.
Since I have this blog, there is an expectation that I will write blog posts regularly, right? So, imagine my anxiety when I either: a) don’t have the time to write a blog post, or b) am lacking motivation or inspiration to come up with anything to write about, or lastly, and most accurately, c) it is not my first priority at the time, as my wedding date is rapidly approaching and I have about 150+ other things on my to-do list and my mind at all times. Imagine my anxiety when I scroll through Instagram and see countless other foodie accounts posting extravagant and beautifully photographed meals along with a full blog post and recipe multiple times a week.
But the crazy thing is, I don’t have anxiety about it. Which is surprising — for me. I’ll be the first to admit that my blog is not my first priority right now, which you may have noticed due to my lack of posts recently. Perfecting food photography and everything that goes with that? Also not my first priority right now. And I think it’s important that we all realize that that is okay. If there’s something that is a big part of your life, and maybe even your identity — like this blog has become for me — it’s okay if it falls on the back burner for a little while. Or even forever. Priorities and dreams are constantly changing; that’s just the natural ebb and flow of life, in your 20s especially.
If you are a loyal follower of my blog, first of all, thank you, and second of all, don’t worry; this is not a post to announce the end of Wellness For The Win forever. However, this is a post to tell you that I’m sorry, but don’t expect much out of me in the way of blog posts or recipe creations for the next few months. Not only am I incredibly busy planning a wedding, but I am also busy spending time with the amazing man I am about to marry and creating our first home together. I’m busy spending time with the special people in my life who will stand beside us or before us on that perfect September day. I’m busy cooking and eating lots of healthy food so I can look and feel my best on our big day (and every day), but I’m also allowing myself to fully enjoy all of the fun celebrations leading up to it, including bridal showers, couple’s showers, and bachelorette parties, which may or may not include a generous amount of cheese dip, sugar cookies, Oreo balls, Michelob Ultras and sangria slushes. I’m also busy meeting new people and soaking up all of the fun opportunities that this blog has provided me so far.
I have very high expectations for this blog and my future as a dietitian. I have plans for the third bedroom in our first home as a married couple to become my “office” slash space where I can work on food photography, write and improve my skills as a blogger. I would love to have my own practice someday and work for myself. I could create my own schedule and have you come see me to learn how to take better care of your body — especially what goes in it. I want to prevent disease by helping people like you realize that you play such a huge role in your own health, and that the decisions you make now will absolutely affect you down the road, often sooner than you think. This is something most people choose to ignore until they have a “wake-up call” and end up in the hospital. As a clinical dietitian, I witness this firsthand on a weekly basis.
I have extremely high expectations of myself, but I also have high expectations of others, which can be very frustrating in this profession. No matter what you say or do, some people will never care about taking care of themselves or about their own health as much as you want them to. Everyone knows that exercise is good for them, but they don’t care enough to actually do it. They know that fruits and vegetables are good for them, but they’d rather stick with what’s “easy” and what “tastes good”. No matter how hard you try to convince people that our bodies were made to do amazing things and that they feel so much better when you move them and fuel them well, some people just don’t get it, never will, or have no desire to.
And again, that’s okay. Everyone is different and no one can tell you how to live your life. If someone tried to tell me that I should do x, y and z differently, I’d probably tell them to shove it and leave me alone, too. So I understand. I do.
The point of this post is to remind you all (and myself) that it’s okay. It’s okay to set goals and have high expectations for yourself and others, but it’s also okay if you don’t always meet them. It’s okay if you need to take a break once in awhile and focus on what’s most important at that time. Especially when it comes to social media, it’s okay to back off and unplug when you need to. The ones who love what you’re about will stick with you. But I see people posting about this all the time — how Instagram is nothing but a “highlight reel” and people only show the things that make them or their lives look way more fun / cool / exciting than they really are. Then people get exhausted and have to take a break because they can’t keep that up. Who are you trying to impress? If people don’t like your actual real life, then screw them.
I truly try to show all sides of my life on my Instagram — the healthy and not-so-healthy; the fun times and the boring times. The days when I feel really awesome and have a bitchin’ 6 am workout and eat all the veggies, as well as the days when I feel super lazy and don’t move much more than taking our dog to the park and drink all the beer and eat all the pizza. The nights when Ethan and I go on fun dates or out with friends, as well as the Saturday nights that I spend cuddling with my dogs and reading a book in bed. I like to talk about balance because it has taken me awhile to get to the point where I am today. I eat what I want when I want, I don’t count calories, and I don’t feel guilty for eating this or that. Obviously, that’s no way to live, but if you’re in that place, I get it. Been there, done that.
A few weeks ago I had my first fitting in my wedding dress. It has yet to be altered and it is currently way too big for me, so it’s difficult to visualize what it will eventually look like, but I can tell you what my initial thoughts were: “I want to look skinnier”. Again, a prime example of those unrealistic expectations I have set for myself. Thanks to the way our society is today, it’s almost impossible not to compare your body to others, and wish you were just that much taller, or that much thinner. In reality, I am a pretty small person already. But can I shrink my ribcage? No. So, time to get over that. Could parts of me be skinnier? Sure, but I probably couldn’t get there in a very healthy way, or a way that would be healthy for me. The fact that I have gotten to such a good place with food and with myself (although I have my moments, as we all do) is what matters. At the end of the day, I will be Ethan’s wife forever and ever, which is truly the most important thing. Weighing five pounds less on my wedding day is really not important enough to sacrifice my mental health or enjoying yummy things from now until then. That’s it. Unrealistic body expectations — see ya later. I don’t have time for you.
It’s okay to have high expectations for yourself, but please, do it for you. Do it because you want to be better at (fill in the blank). Don’t do it because you think it’s what others want from you, or to “keep up” with someone else — something I think a lot of people are guilty of these days, thanks to social media. For example, I eat well because I truly love healthy food and it makes me feel good, and I know it’s good for my body. I don’t do it to prove something to my Instagram followers. I exercise because I enjoy it, and again, it’s good for me physically, but even more so mentally. I created this blog and my Instagram account because I have a huge passion for health and wellness that I felt compelled to share with others. I want to motivate people to make healthy choices that will help them live a longer, happier life, but also help them realize that living a healthy life can be easy, fun, and incredibly satisfying.
Is there something in your life that is super important to you, but not necessarily at the top of your priorities list at the moment? Have you set unrealistic expectations for yourself in more than one department of your life? Take a closer look at what matters most to you right now, and decide if you need to take a step back, or set some more realistic expectations for yourself. Or better yet, if you need to remove all of the expectations and just let life happen. (I recommend option B.)
If I stumble upon some spare time in the next 57 days, I will definitely try to do a quick post or two! In the meantime, follow me on Instagram at @wellnessforthewin, as I still manage to post there at least once daily, because I’m constantly eating and it requires much less effort. 😉
As always, feel free to message on Instagram, comment below, or email me at [email protected] with any questions or just to chat!
Thanks for sticking with me through the busy times! Talk to you soon! 🙂
Shanna Stewart, RD LD