Ever been really excited to go to the movies?

Waiting and waiting for the release date and you just know it’s going to be great because it has your favourite actor in it, and you loved the book when you were 16, and your oldest friend who you never have time to catch up with can’t wait to see it with you. Finally it’s available on the big screen and you’re too busy working, and getting a root canal, and organising driving lessons for your own 16 year old, so the movie is down to the last days of showing. Two days before it leaves town, you finally go with a group of friends.

You get there, grab your tickets and settle in for an awesome night. The moment has arrived. Nobody says much during the movie, then you go out for after-movie drinks and you all realise the movie was absolute shit. Despite starring your favourite actor, and it being a beloved childhood book.

Or maybe because of that.

All those expectations, all that build up, and then the overwhelming disappointment.

I paid $17.50 to see that drivel! I was looking forward to it for four months! I could have stayed home and caught another season of “Orphan Black” for free!

My expectations of people, places and performances have let me down more times than I care to reflect upon. And I have no doubt that many an expectation has been expected of me that I have failed to live up to – for whatever valid or invalid reason.

This is a lesson I find exceedingly difficult to learn and seem to repeat with a painful frequency at various points throughout my life. Each time I come away from a situation where I feel bitterly disappointed at someone or something, if I reflect carefully later, I realise my own expectations exceeded the potential.

The lower my expectations, the happier things seems to sit.

Now this might seem like a poor-me, dreary kind of attitude, but I don’t believe that is the case at all. If I want to go out for a night of dancing, go with someone who actually likes dancing, and don’t get all bitter and twisted the person I went with instead, doesn’t like dancing.

I need to respect people’s strengths and weaknesses, loves and hates, quirks and irritations, and adjust accordingly. As they do with me. For I have some quirky strengths and some irritating weaknesses.

Places and performances can ofttimes be irritatingly quirky and I am learning to keep expectations low. Not in an overly pessimistic kind of way, but in a realistic, prepared kind of way. If I go to the movie with my favourite actor, from my beloved childhood book, it has some pretty jolly big shoes to fill and there’s a high chance I’ll be disappointed. Because to be honest, my most memorable movie moments, have come from random films I’d never heard of, filled with actors I’d never seen before, organised at the 11th hour – if not a tad later – with a friend I only happened to by chance ring by accident an hour earlier. (Oh my gosh – so many gut-stabbing squeals of laughter that afternoon, I almost peed myself with happiness).

Planning can get in the way – which is a huge admission from an obsessive planner. But I acknowledge there is a time and a place for everything – and perhaps I don’t need to plan who/what/where/when/why we go to a movie.

I may have the gluttony-vice down pat, but I feel I’ve worked quite hard at keeping the snotty green envy-vice at bay. I am so much more fortunate than many in this world. And less than others. I can choose which way I look. Of course I indulge in self-indulgent pity-parties from time to time – they feel great. But to be honest, I have never been envious about what other people have – my anxieties are busy worrying about what they think of me.

Of course I’d like more money, a closer family, and a solid career. But I invested my energies into “other things”. Whether they are valuable to “other people” I don’t know. But as they’re not living in my house or walking in my shoes (if they are, give them back), then really their opinion shouldn’t count.

Travel is something I adore. For so many decades I yearned to travel – never having the opportunity or the material funds to do any at all. Then in the past five years we have been incredibly fortunate to have had several overseas trips, and this year a huge trip of a lifetime (in my very humble opinion) that I never in a million years dreamed would ever come to be. It’s costing us a small fortune, but there is no golden rule that says we should leave an inheritance for our kids. That wasn’t written in the baby manual. Not that I read the manual.

As my husband and I head off on a three month European adventure later in the year (yes, three months – insane? possibly), I know I will have planned the details down to the most minute aspect (my anxieties will not stretch to winging it through Europe for three months), but I’ll also cheerfully have a miserable time so I can blog all about it when I get back. They do say  travel disasters make for the best stories. I’m not sure who “They” are to be honest – perhaps travel bloggers who are paid to travel…

But I notice travel expectations are often huge and I wonder if that’s because we (me? is it just me?) put so much effort and planning and monies into the trip, that the non-perfect trip becomes a disappointment.

My international travel may have been non-existent up until recent years, but I have been blessed to have amazing friends whom I have had wonderful weekends (you know, 3-7 day weekends) away with on a regular basis for nearly 30 years.

From these trips I learned that the company you keep is far more valuable than the destination you visit.

And that is priceless. Not that I want to stay home for free – we have to go somewhere, otherwise those root canals and driving lessons come knocking on the door. And rain and hail and best-laid plans are all meaningless. Make the plans then wing it anyway. The best of times are had at the most unexpected times. You can’t plan for a great time.

As travel is going to be occupying a lot of my year this year, I find myself thinking about it a lot. I know I am often simultaneously filled with the wonder of where I am – regardless of shitty weather, rabid dogs, and sleepless nights – while consumed with anxiety about talking to strangers, getting to the next location, and making sure my companions are happy.

But every time – Every, Single, Time – my expectations of someone or something else, are built up in a way that in some way reflects, It might be different this time. If only it were like this… then I know I’m setting I’m setting myself up for another pity party. Because I’m making arbitrary rules, to suit my needs. Rather than meeting my needs, by finding the suitable means.

As 2018 blossoms along (hello? it’s day five!) I hope we all have great things happen, and realistic expectations.