The Expectation Dance

So. I’m just going to jump right into this one, deal? I hear a lot of encouragement for today’s women to lower the expectations. We blame Pinterest and glossy inspirational blogs for setting an impossible standard and we preach for “normalcy” – for an everyday status quo that offers attainability for the masses (whatever the masses look like from where we’re sitting, of course).

But ladies, I don’t think the answer is to lower the expectations. I don’t think the goal should be to throw in the towel, snap photos of our messes and call it authenticity. (You already know how I feel about that.) I don’t want to encourage lesser versions of ourselves, just as much as I don’t want to encourage perfect, Stepfordized shells of ourselves. The why is always more important than the what.

So what if – instead of lowering the expectations – we shifted them? What if – instead of focusing on the outward actions or decisions or standards – we focused on our hearts?

Deliver the homemade, organic, free-range, gluten-free paleo braised chicken if it means you are loving your neighbor.
Drop off KFC if it means you are loving your neighbor.

Run a marathon if it means you are honoring your mother.
Sit on the couch and watch Lifetime if it means you are honoring your mother.

Send your kids to public school if it means you are providing for your family.
Homeschool your kids if it means you are providing for your family.

Organize your home if it means you are using your talents.
Make a mess if it means you are using your talents.

Create a beautifully crafted tablescape if it brings joy to your home.
Eat from paper plates and plastic flatware if it brings joy to your home.

Ladies, it’s time we stop apologizing for our whats and start embracing our whys. It’s time we stop lowering the bar – this expected standard of universal acceptance – and instead, raise our hearts and our minds and our souls. It’s time we stop playing Limbo with one another – how low can you go? – and start getting to work on our backbends. On our grace and flexibility and wisdom and perspective.

Let’s turn up the music and kick the Limbo bar to the corner. It’s time we danced.

Image Credit: Luke Chesser

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  • I recently stumbled across your blog and just want to thank you for authentically and gracefully sharing your heart with the blog world.

  • You shared your thoughts at the perfect time (for me). I have been feeling so overwhelmed lately with all these projects I want to complete but feeling restricted by time and my health. Thank you!

  • This is wonderful! I think it perfectly captures this struggle that we all deal with on a regular basis, and is such a better solution than going to either extreme. The “why” should definitely be the focus!

  • Amen! So very well written. I love how you can capture what many are thinking and spell it out so eloquently. Gracias!!

  • Awesome post, Erin. Nothing for me to add because you said everything that needs saying on this. Just wanted you to know I think it’s great.

  • Beautifully said! It is hard to find a balance between aspirational motivation and acceptance, but I think you hit the nail right on the head with this, and it really is so simple. Be the best at being you that you can at any given moment, and it will be beautiful.

  • I’m a new mom and new to your blog. Recently back to work and completely overwhelmed with finding balance between work and motherhood… This couldn’t have come at more perfect time. Thank you. :)

    • Ah, Teresa – I feel you! I had a really difficult transition going back to work (and I realllllly eased into it – I’m a slow learner!), so please give yourself time to learn. Take care of that sweet family of yours – and yourself! And congrats on your new addition!

  • So glad I found this post. What a brilliant way of looking at the whys. It takes so much pressure off. I am definitely more of the “paper plate” server than the tablescape kind. Nice to know it’s not a bad thing!

  • Thank you for this! I wholeheartedly agree, and I hope that more women will start accepting themselves for who they ARE and not for who they are expected TO BE. I think trying to be everything that everyone else is drives us crazy, and I can’t imagine lowering my expectations just so we can all be the same. I’m different, you’re different, we are all different. And it’s OK. You are a beautiful writer, and I am so glad I read this today :)

  • thank you for this, i really needed this today, to cut through all the noise around me and in my head. <3

  • As always, loved this post! I often get down on myself for the fact that my apartment does NOT look Pinterest worthy (not even really photo worthy in any sense). It’s very beige (it’s a rental, we can’t paint). The art we have on the walls is a weird jumble collected over both our lives. Our couch is ripped to shreds by our cat, we don’t have enough lighting in the evenings, the TV is the centrepiece, and there aren’t many decorative knicknacks. The plant is almost dead. I never painted the cheap IKEA drawer set. Our kitchen floor needs to be scrubbed (probably multiple times). But all the time I spend not decorating it I spend doing things in it, and that makes me happy. And yes, I’d love it to be beautiful and always clean and white and have amazing art, but my parents house is beautiful, always clean, white, and has amazing art, and I hardly ever pay attention to it. I’m usually more annoyed I can’t find what I need in the kitchen, or that the couch isn’t comfy enough for slouching in. So thank you, for helping me realize my imperfect home is the way it is and that it’s completely fine with me.

    • I LOVE this line, Sara: “But all the time I spend not decorating it I spend doing things in it, and that makes me happy.” Thank you for such a beautiful perspective!

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