Egos & Expectations

What in life can we truly control? There seem to be some definitive answers such as our schedule, the money we spend, and the amount of spicy salsa on our tamales. But when it comes to aspects of life we cannot control, such as the weather, traffic, and relationships ending…when does it become our duty to let go and let life exist as it does?

I have begun to tell my friends, “Expectations are a form of control.” And it’s interesting as I type this because let me ask your opinion, is the word control a negative or a positive word? That’s the first of many questions in this post.

There’s this popular quote floating across the internet: Expect nothing, receive everything. Maybe you’ve seen it once or twice, I know I have seen it plenty. At first, years ago, I perceived this to be a silly quote because having standards and setting expectations are good things, right? Maybe not?

Here’s the array of questions I have for you. Do you personally have expectations for friends or a significant other? Have you verbally communicated those wishes clearly? Is it ok to assume what others want from us and not ask for confirmation? On the other hand, why does it hurt so tragically when someone doesn’t meet the unspoken expectations we set for them? And, strangely, why does it hurt your ego to ask someone you’d like something from them?

Allow me to share an embarrassing story. I recall a moment when I donated the most minuscule and laughable amount of money to multiple people and I was miffed that not all said, “Thank you.” To put it simply, I was a bitch. As I look back, I cringe at my ego for being so loud. Instead of being disappointed in them, I now shamefully shift my disappointment onto myself. Why did I then shamelessly showcase such an ugly characteristic? Sadly, that was not the only moment where I grossly displayed my ego. I’ve held multifarious shows that not one person wanted tickets for and the crowd (rightfully so) booed. I regularly question who did I think I was then. Hah. Lesson: Thank-yous are nice, however, don’t expect everyone to say it and don’t take it personal if you never get any for whatever it is you have done. Give because you want to and not because you expect something back. True altruism does not seek repayment, appreciation, or acknowledgement.

I have another story for you. A few months back, I had an odd experience which led me to comparing myself to someone, and I became more upset than necessary because of my ego. Comparison is a treacherous and tricky game where there is no true winner. Comparing myself to someone in order to feel “better than” is a display of low self-esteem. On the other hand, when I compare myself to someone else and I end up feeling “less than”—I essentially tormented myself willingly due to my thoughts and insecurities. Lesson: When one door closes for you, don’t judge or demonize those before who were able to walk through them. The door may open for a thousand people and it may be locked for you. Don’t take it personal and keep it moving. Do not get stuck in the past. Destiny did not say no, she’s saying, “Look elsewhere.”

Here’s another instance: I was not invited somewhere. Somewhere lively, luxurious, and a place where I knew I would have had so much fun, get to dress up, and indulge in all the glitz, glamour, and giggles. As I halt and step back, analyze my emotions and thoughts, I become less disheartened at the invite that never arrived. I realize that my emotional pain is coming directly only from myself. I was making myself feel lonely when it was not the other party’s intention to isolate or upset me. Our friendship remains the same, before and after the event, as it was only my ego that was wounded in this imaginary battle I set up. Lesson: Finding where I lack stability means I have the opportunity to fix my fragility. Happiness cannot ever be dependent on anything external. Happiness comes from within. Also, no one owes me happiness and my joy is no one’s responsibility. Jealousy and envy can make one quite ill and those are diseases of the mind I have no intentions of developing today or tomorrow.

Why do we, as humans, take other people’s lives and actions and make it about ourselves and hurt our own feelings? Maybe that is a silly question and I answered it in the fifth word of the question. Because we are human. Because life is a journey of lessons, growth, and expanding our mindset. Back then, my ego was a huge glass of fragility. Now, I’m working on shrinking it to be less loud and apparent. I am certain history will repeat itself again as I am not guaranteed an invitation to every event on Earth. However, these silent battles end quicker than not these days as I remove my ego from the situation and understand that I am not an emotional victim of any circumstances. Life goes on, earnestly and endearingly so.

At 27, here’s what I’ve learned:
Emotions are temporary. Feel them, understand them, and let them go.
Egos and expectations go hand-in-hand. Unlink them.
My perceptions of people are not their duties to fulfill.
Likewise, it is not my job to maintain the image people have of me.
My happiness is my responsibility and mine only.

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Ego, Let Go

I would like to think that I am resourceful and always aspiring to do more in my career and advancing my skillset. I have played around with the idea of being a Project Manager in the future when my career progresses further. I think it suits my personality of being particular and organized, creating task lists, and making sure plans execute accordingly and beautifully. I also would like to think that I am someone who doesn’t have a huge ego and ultimately, eventually, I would like to abandon my ego. That’s my goal.

In previous posts, I’ve talked about how my ego got in the way of my former friendships and this time around, I’d like to discover how to let go of my ego. I believe enlightenment occurs when we let go of entitlements and our egos.

Let me ask you something. Does anyone truly owe us anything? Time? Loyalty? Friendship? A text back? What about a thank you? Why do we feel entitled to these things? Are these expectations harmful, healthy, or both? Do certain mannerisms exist to merely satisfy a person of society’s ego? Is the ego naturally occurring or is it a result of our environment? These are the questions currently floating in my mind.

In the professional space, we need Project Managers. But in my personal life, I saw myself attempting to be a Project Manager and as I look back, I was heavily devoted and invested in someone’s life, actions, mental health, and vernacular that I set myself up to receive a heavenly high return only to receive a heartbreaking ROI. People are not projects. Yes, I, myself, am a work in progress but that is my work to do—not anyone else’s—so why was I trying to do the work for another person? My former therapist wrote to me, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

One of the bittersweet aftereffects of a relationship ending is that I learn things I wish I knew when the relationship was ongoing. I wish I knew then that expecting someone to change into the exact image I had in my mind is one, unrealistic. Second, it was a dream with just one purpose: to please my ego. Notice how I said “is unrealistic” and not “was unrealistic” because it remains true. To this day, I cannot latch onto this hope and dream of someone, even if it is a non-toxic version of themselves, because the reality is…not all wishes come true, even if they are rooted in the most pure intentions. Hope can be a treacherous place if you are looking for the way out as hope sticks you in the space of potential, what-ifs, and endless positive sparkling possibilities. Oh, let me tell you, basking in someone’s potential can feel like a warm euphoria, but truly, it’s a false euphoria.

It was a mentality that served as nothing more than a naive attempt to control how my life should play out. As I explore this topic, I realize…I was not fully comfortable or happy with who I was dating and where my life was headed. Ultimately, I didn’t feel secure in the relationship. So, I started daydreaming and not dealing with the actual person who was once in front of me. The daydreams were an escape. The daydreams were what I selfishly wished for and even though I expected my ex to be more this and less that…I, myself, in my own ways, was controlling him as well. The yearning for him to behave a certain way was me trying to change reality, trying to dictate our futures, trying to preserve a love that was nearing its expiration date…I was trying to the fight the reality that we were no longer compatible. My ego could not handle the facts presented.

By no means am I a perfect human being and I do not strive to be flawless. As I take this time to meticulously assess my flaws and areas where I can improve as a partner, I plan on making it a goal to gingerly guide myself to step out of my emotions and ego. The world does not revolve around me and another person’s actions will never diminish the value I have for myself. I pledge to ask these questions when a not-so-sweet situation occurs, “Do I allow this person to hurt me? Do I allow my ego to be loud and on display? Am I genuinely upset or is my ego just injured because events did not turn out as expected?”

One notion I’ve been saying out loud is, “Expectations are a form of control.” Do you agree? To be continued on my next post… thanks for reading! Happy New Year.

Regret, Regrowth, and a Promise

Regrets

As 2019 budded into Spring, I reflected and realized how some of the toxic roots that I unknowingly planted in 2017 had sprouted as poisonous plants in the garden of my mind. Now, I’ve decided to weed those habits and thoughts out of my head before the heat of the summer sun warms up all the wrong and twisted vines.

One specific incident with one specific person has taught me one incredibly vivid lesson: maybe, you didn’t hurt me as much as I had thought back then, and that maybe, I was clouded by my selfishness and my need of you to be there for me and what I found to be more virtuous and vital is that no friend ever hurts you willingly.

I did not think to look at your intentions because I was too focused on the indentations on my ego. My ego said, “You should have been there for me.” But what I didn’t realize yet was that I was in a fog and couldn’t see your light, so I thought you weren’t coming to find me and you did not care. What I realize now, is that fog is thick, and if I had reached harder to find your intentions, I would have found your light had I waited just the right amount of time.

But… I wasn’t patient. My ego said, “You should have been there for me.” I was selfish and kept count of the times I had been there for you, but a true friend does not keep count of the good they do for their friends. I’ve always denied the existence of karma and here I was, holding what I’ve done for others against them. I wasn’t ready to admit that I had expectations of friends returning the favor immediately and accordingly to my desires.

Now, my heart says, “I miss you.”

My mind admits, “I’m embarrassed and I regret losing you.”

I’ve learned a lot from my friendships. But, I’ve learned the most when those friendships cease to exist. To the person this post is about, I wish I had the courage to tell you this but I’m not ready…yet. Until then, I wrote this for you. Hope you’re well.


Regrowth

I watered areas of my mind I had let dry up. I embraced the warmth and love of my closest friends. I planted small seeds of hope though I wasn’t sure what would bloom, or if anything would sprout. I plucked petals of daisies, wondering, “Will they forgive me? Will they not?”

Days turn into months.

I revisited the garden of my mind, pleasantly surprised at what I planted had now bloomed. Bushes I had left in a mess became fuller and greener, for I had changed my perspective of what had happened and who you were into a brighter and softer picture.

Our memories are dependent on our moods. On my bad days, I resented you. On my better days, I missed you. These days, I have more good days than not. Even on the days I’m not feeling my best, I now reminisce on our best days as best friends.

It took some time and some trimming but I’m proud of where I am now mentally and emotionally.


A Promise

Some say they hate receiving flowers as gifts because flowers die. But some things don’t last forever to teach us the lesson of valuing what we have now. We must appreciate the sweet scent of life’s flora while we can. Worrying about tomorrow steals the precious moment of the present.

Losing you made me realize that I cannot keep pushing people away when I feel vulnerable or hurt. Losing you made me realize I have to change the way I react to situations that are uncomfortable and at times, painful. Now, I promise to be less reactive and more patient. I promise to hold onto the ones I love a little harder and give second chances to those deserving of it, a notion I never really believed in or thought I’d say or type.

In life, all we have are the memories we share with each other. How we make others feel, the impact people have on us, and the laughter we share–that is what life is about.

Thank you for reading.

Starving My Ego

This was one afternoon I’ll never forget. Two people, one room, and I wondered if anyone heard the volume of my emotions through the walls. When our words were exchanged in your small room, they were like small sparks that ricocheted from the papers and wood of your desk. All in a matter of a minute, the room felt smaller and hot, but the space between us grew. I was taken back by what you said but I should have been more taken back by how I acted. Without revealing too much about who and where, I learned a lesson about my ego and how being where I am right now is the best time to make mistakes, not recklessly, but in a manner where I keenly learn and don’t repeat those mistakes again.

I never considered myself an egotistical person until I reflected on how I reacted when someone gave me feedback I did not take well. I always thought of an egotistical person as one who’s arrogant, someone with a ravenous appetite to be full of oneself, someone who can never admit to their wrongs… the list can go on. But I suppose we know only what we feel and think, but not always how others feel and think about us.

Humans are conditioned to be comfortable, or at least, we get used to events that occur on a predictable routine, like people we see on a daily basis, lifting the same dumbbell at a certain weight, or in my instance, being fed compliments and consistently given plates of acknowledgement and appreciation. I’ve dined on desserts getting to know the sweet taste of being valued and needed, but we all know too many sweets can make one sick. After a buffet of nothing but positivity and praise, when I was served a dish I forgot existed, the gluttonous animal in me was repulsed by the flavors and aftertaste. I caught a swift glimpse, of the monster that I was, in the always sparkling silver plate, but the hand that fed me was mine, for it was my own ego I had tasted.

I had let all the delicious and satisfying treats of adoration fill my head, inflate my ego, and I was left wondering why my head hurt when you told me I had to work on myself. Perhaps I was not as diligent as I thought I was. Perhaps it was tunnel vision, a food-induced coma of compliments and smiles, the excitement of knowing what I could do with my skills, or a mix of all three. There certainly can be more reasons as to why I felt so powerful yet fragile but it does not matter why my nasty ego came out. What matters now is that I no longer feed my ego in order to the maintain the beast of arrogance and pride inside of me.

You see, an ego must always be fed. An ego is supreme yet shatterable because it makes me feel grand, better than all, like a king who can conquer all the lands and yet, it can be ruined when the slightest risk not being liked looms and the terror settles in when I realize that having such an ego is like living in a glass house. When the day is alive, the refulgent light floods the house with a warmth I’ll never stop yearning for and the sunlight soaks my skin with happiness. But when the night comes, darkness has no mercy and I wonder if I’m safe at all. My ego cries for the day to return because in the dark my insecurity reeks. Am I confident or am I dependent on others praising me?

Is it ever possible to live without an ego? How do we live without seeing ourselves in our actions and who we allow to be in our lives? Do we keep our ego at a healthy size? My thought is that the ego can be maintained and set at a nondistracting distance. Sizable enough to keep us aware of who we are and what we’d like to be, but not too large where we hurt others and ourselves with the blind assumption that we are who we are not.

At 24, I am still figuring out to swim with the waves of my ego. For the most part, it comes in soft waves of just confidently and politely kissing the sand with the right amount of sanity to keep the peace of the waters. But that one afternoon, that was a storm because my ego erupted from the bottom of the ocean and sought to demolish whoever dared to humble me. It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary. Growth isn’t easy nor is it comfortable, but it’s a beautiful sight to see when the seas have calmed and the air is safe.

Thank you for reading!