Friday, July 29, 2011


 {photo by Christinne Muschi for Reuters, found here}

I love to take quizzes. You know, those quizzes and surveys that get stuck in the back of magazines or sneak up on you when you’re searching the internet. I’ve pored over my Myer-Briggs results (I’m an INTJ, and, guess what, so is C.S. Lewis, so… score!) and discovered what house I belong to in Hogwarts. I’ve learned what color looks best on me and which decorating style matches my personality. Some results I agree with (there is no doubting my Myers-Briggs profile), and others I think are pure bunk.

Back in high school, I took a quiz — I don’t even remember where I found it, nor do I remember the premise behind its questions — and the results were positively eerie. So eerie that I printed them out and stapled them to the back of my bedroom door. Ten years later, there they still are, reminding me of who I was at 16, and, really, who I still am at 25. I wish I knew where I took this quiz, who wrote it, or who published it, because it describes me perfectly.

You are a mix of a reliant and a dreamer. Your friends can count on you, especially when they need a favor. You always stand your ground. They appreciate you for that, and they welcome your consistency of character. You’re disappointed when you don’t get the same reliability in return.

You want meaning out of life. People are important to you. Your relationships can make or break your day. Your friends are amazed at how well your intuition works for you. You demand no less than truth and justice.

It’s that last line of the first paragraph that’s always stuck with me, because it’s so very true. I hate to admit it, but there it is.

Last Sunday, the minister at our congregation greeted parishioners by saying, “I hope you came in with high expectations today!”

And I wondered to myself if I really had.

I’ve always been a high expectations person. Vacations, theme parks, life events, friendships: I have high expectations for all of the above. Often, as a result, I become disappointed. Vacations don’t go well. My favorite rides are broken. The first week of college is hard. Friends let me down.

My standards aren’t met, and it’s like a slap in the face.

But — as I suspect is the case with most high expectation people — I bounce back. I take more vacations, find new friends. I learn some lessons the hard way, sure, but I keep hoping; my standards remain high.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed that things are changing. It’s like I hit my limit for disappointment, and somewhere, deep down, I decided to become a low expectations person instead.

Low expectations people aren’t often disappointed because they’re too busy being pleasantly surprised. They thought vacation was going to be miserable, but, hey! It’s not! They thought their friend was going to cancel on their dinner party, but hey! They didn’t!

Their standards are lower, so there’s less cause for disappointment.

And even though I firmly believe the world probably needs both kinds of people, I’m discovering that I don’t like who I am when my expectations are low.

I’ve noticed — in tiny ways, perhaps (I hope), unnoticeable to the people around me — that I’m becoming more jaded, kind of bitter.

When I went into church last Sunday, and my minister greeted us in such an unusual way, it hit me: I hadn’t come in expecting much.

Sure, I wound up being surprised. The sermon was challenging, the singing was lovely, and we met some dear friends for lunch. It was a good day.

But I wish my expectations had been higher.

Because here’s the thing about having high expectations: Sometimes, they’re met. And when that happens, it’s like the world is as it should be. It reminds us that the dreams we have for ourselves and others can be achieved, and adventures are ready for the taking.

When they’re not met, though, there’s still — and I think this is key — a hope, deep down, maybe buried under a few layers, that one day, the expectations we set will be met. There’s an end goal, a calling and a desire for more.

And despite the occasional disappointment, I don’t want to lose that.

I want to be full of joyful expectation.

I want to be prepared to be surprised.


“Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant.
Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder.”

- Romans 12:11-12, The Message


Christina said...

I just wrote a post exactly like this! I think high expectations are essential.

Staley Mc said...

I love taking quizzes too. I'm always a sucker for one when I see it.

I tend to be a lower expectation person but I want to try and be a higher expectation person because you are right, it is important to get to that end goal.

Hope you have a great weekend!

Brittany said...

I think we are pretty similar Annie. I really understand the expectations thing. I have really high expectations for myself and for other people and it's hard for me when my standard isn't met. I've learned to be more flexible and to focus more on individuals and small successes, and that has helped with the disappointment. But I don't want to lower my expectations either. I want to be surprised too. Loved this post.

Oh and I'm an INTJ too.

Syd said...

This post was quite inspiring to me. I have been struggling lately with a similar issue of having high expecttions of myself but also believing that I can achieve them. Often it is easy to expect high but then give yourself an "out" when we don't reach them. Instead, I have been realizing that confidence is key to keeping those expectaions high and having the strength to truly believe you can reach them.

I so enjoy your blog! Thank you for your post :)

Kristen said...

How crazy is that? I just used Romans 12:12 on my blog, I believe on Wednesday? It's been so wonderful to me, and I am glad you see it the same way.

Rachael Lamb said...

I too went through a phase (and am still kinda in it but trying to get out) where I have low expectations so that I won't be disappointed. That Romans verse is a good one to remember.

Annie said...

I love this post. I loved it right away because you mentioned that you were an INTJ, and so am I, and because your quiz results accurately summarize me, too, but I loved it the more you went on.

My father and I have always had high expectations - of people, of their morals, of their professionality, etc. And he said to me the other day that we expect the world to run the way it should. People should be kind; they should be efficient, hard, ethical workers. And I realize that having high expectations in some areas has made me pessimistic, and I don't like that pessimism.

I love that you mention that hope of a place where things and people will be the way they should, because it's to that place we ought to lift our eyes and of which we ought to be reminded.

agonyaw said...

this was so spot on for how i've been feeling lately.
reminds me of a quote that i see often on pinterest: "sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for them."

rach. said...

GREAT blog! it is so interesting and inspirational! if you get the chance to check out mine, I would love to see what you think of it!:)

follow me?

Kelly Sauer said...

I am INFP, at least last I checked, and that moves around a bit. But you - this.

If you wrote a book, I would buy it.

I feel like you are a missing part of me, like that bit you quoted from the quiz you took at 16 is something I didn't know about myself until I grew up and realized myself.

This post makes me want to meet you. You mentioned in a post I read earlier that you are in the South - where?

I just have that "kindred spirit" feeling with you that I've had only a few times in my life. And I'm saying this in what, my 5th comment today? :-P

Lowered expectations also teach us not to desire, and as I've been learning to raise my own expectations from my cynicism, I've been learning again how to desire, and at the end of desire, I find God, and what He desires. I hope I hope I hope He desires that we could be friends.

What a silly thing to say. But hey. You started it. I'm raising my expectations here. ;-)