Expectations Schmexpectations

This year, we got engaged, decided to have a wedding, Jeremy had the hardest semester of entrepreneurship courses,  I quit my job, and we started our business. I have been so disappointed in myself for the fact that this wasn't an easy-to-handle experience. I've grieved over the disillusionment of the idea that following your dreams is not some beautifully simple life path. I am still figuring this out, but after some overdue introspection on the long drive from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, I realized why I have been beating myself up over my lack of perfection in the past few months, and what might have lead me to this place. 
 
I realized in September of last year that I was serious about leaving my full-time office manager job at the local university to pursue a business in teaching, performing, and making hula hoops in my small Oklahoma town. I wanted to quit at that moment. I knew I needed a plan, and I needed to understand my finances deeper than, "money is magically deposited into my account every two weeks" and to make sure I understood my income and expenses. So, I hung on. I worked 17-hour days, working full-time and teaching, making hoops, and performing in the evenings and weekends. I waited. I worked hard. I held on to the dream that I would leave OU and start my own business, where I could do yoga all day, hula hoop all the time, grow a beautiful garden, have a perfectly clean house, and be the woman I have always dreamed I can be. Sounds simple, right! I didn't actually quit my job for 7 more months. Those months were so hard, and I survived them by dreaming about how perfect everything would be once I was actually working full-time for myself. When I would stress, I would distract myself by dreaming about how wonderful everything would be very soon. Every time a friend would ask me how I was doing, I would say, "Man, I am working so hard, but it will all be worth it once I'm done working full-time in the office and can do what I want with my time!" I'm not someone who can hide how I'm feeling, so I had this conversation hundreds of times over that 7 months. 

Then, I quit. I became my own boss! This was supposed to be magical, right? FINALLY, I made it through. No longer obligated to the 8-5, I worked 9am-Midnight. There was so much to do! Websites, hoops, promo videos, classes, and shows I couldn't turn down, because I was afraid of being able to pay my mortgage. This was all I ever wanted, right?? Right?! Why am I so stressed? You ungrateful monster! Engaged to the (really, perfect) man, planning a circus-y wedding. So, where is the bliss?? Where is my garden? Why is my house messy, and I don't have time to clean it, even though I'm home all day? What is wrong with me???? How am I not happy?! I am literally LIVING THE DREAM. Was that always meant with a hint of sarcasm?

I've been so upset that I'm not perfectly happy now that I'm finally doing what I want to do. I really set myself up for failure with the expectation that everything would be solved once I quit my job. I have felt really burnt out, actually, which is a miserable place to be when you have built your life and career around your passion. I have felt miserable about the mere fact that I feel miserable. I am stressed by my own stress. I am so ashamed by my struggle. It's a vicious cycle of compounding, spiraling fear- "If I'm not happy right now, will I ever be happy? I waited so long for this. Am I one of those people who just chases the next thing and never finds peace?" So, I can be kind of dramatic.

1. I set myself up for disappointment when I expected perfection after that difficult transition.
2. But, that dream gave me the courage I needed to quit and the strength to stay at work for that crucial 7 months.  

Realizing this and forgiving myself for my mistake in expectations was the first step. The next step is realizing that it is okay that this is hard, and that being hard is actually a positive thing. If I can stop being so upset that I'm not as perfect as I expected, or that there is something wrong with me, then I can see this for the challenge it is!

Today, I was driving home and realized while looking back on my life that the accomplishments I am the most proud of were the most difficult. It did start with recovering from the accident, which showed me a resilience and determination I never knew resided within me. After that, it was learning to walk/run/dance again, and eventually I got into distance cycling. I would ride 100 miles a week alone in hilly, windy east Norman- just because I could! I would ride my bike by the mailbox where my accident happened and slap it as I passed, just to prove to myself that I have recovered. I once ended up in the hospital after a 52 mile bike ride with the college cycling team. I was determined not to be shown up by a bunch of boys, so I finished the ride, went to a BBQ, went home, and then went to the hospital the next morning to find out I had punctured a lung during the ride and was leaking air into my neck. I like challenges. This is just another one of those really grueling, long-distance rides, and I'm not going to give up.

So, I don't do yoga every day, and my garden looks awful. The house isn't as clean as I'd like it to be, but I'm doing my best. It's not that I thought it was going to be easy, I knew it would be hard. I just thought I would be better at it, and better at handling it. I am giving up on the expectation for perfection, and forgiving myself for putting it there in the first place. I will be more careful about the expectations I set for myself in the future. There are dreams and there are delusions, and the idea that I'm going to be perfect and blissfully happy all the time is in the latter category, no matter how much yoga I do or financial security I have. I have only begun to figure it out, but that's okay. Instead of expecting perfection, maybe I should just shoot for staying out of the hospital, and count most everything else a success. Instead of beating myself up for what I'm not doing, I should be grateful that I am getting to do this. 

After this year is over, and we are newlyweds looking back on the first year of our business, we will be so proud that we fought to survive and learned so many hard lessons in a short time. We worked hard together to overcome. In truth, I would much rather have the pride of that accomplishment than have a blissful, sure-to-end honeymoon period. Although, I bet I find some bliss in there somewhere.