On the eve of Valentine’s Day, do yourself a favour and take a hard look at your expectations, because you may be causing unnecessary suffering.
I once got upset at a boyfriend because he took me to a carnival and couldn’t win me one of those huge stuffed animals. I couldn’t figure out why I was so upset. I went silent around him until he got upset at me and had to defend the fact that those games are rigged and why in the world was I so bothered by it. Then I realized that movies have conditioned me to believe that it was a rite of passage that your boyfriend will win you a huge teddy bear at a carnival.
So in my mind, the fact that he didn’t win one for me meant that either I wasn’t good enough, he wasn’t husband material, or we weren’t meant to be.
Personally, I got stuck on the “I’m not good enough” train, leading me to feel worthless. Meanwhile, who in their right mind wants to take home a huge teddy bear? Where’s it going to sit? Who’s going to deal with it when it has to get thrown out eventually? WHY DO WE DO THESE THINGS?
The subliminal messages we take in while we’re young can have an irrevocable impact on our quality of life as adults if we don’t examine them closely. Thinking about it now, I feel like it’s the silliest thing to get upset about. Back then, it meant a lot more because it was part of the narrative that I believed my life would reflect. I would go on to realize more and more that my expectations about how life was going to be were often in direct conflict with how things ended up. And if you realize how much those two realities conflict, and you don’t change your expectations, it’s a recipe for constant disappointment and emotional turmoil.
I’m happy to say that despite never being given big gifts or having a giant teddy bear won for me, I am pretty content. Turns out that although the media can depict some interesting takes on romance, they often miss the subtleties that go into what actual love is about.
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