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  • Writer's pictureTracey Lee


It’s an interesting word expectation. Great expectations, high expectations and low ones too!  The sense that one has something waiting in the wings or that things will come to fruition can fill the “expectee” with a range of emotions that can be both hopeful and fearful. At times both simultaneously.  To expect is to look forward to an occurrence, to anticipate a likely outcome – all quite positive and motivating notions. And yet during the last little while I’ve become very conscious of the human tendency to focus on ‘lowering our expectations’.

I hear adults say it to young people all the time. There are some of us who seem to have some psychic ability when it comes to predicting the lows that someone might reach simply by looking at them. Those same people seem to have a knack for crushing dreams and limiting hopefulness.  And it’s not just the curmudgeons among us! In some way we are all guilty of having low expectations. It is as if the joy and wonder has been strained out of us and we make it our job to drain it out of others.

Be realistic! Get your head out of the clouds! Don’t get your hopes up! These simple statements are the salient advice we dispense without a clear understanding of what we are actually implying by taking people’s dreams and stomping up and down on them. And I’m enough of a realist and pragmatist to know that dreams have to have plans and at times must be accompanied by hard work and occasionally sacrifice. But when I hear someone expressing their aspirations I’m already tuning the band up…the cheer squad is ready to fire up the optimism and celebrate the beginning of their dream. Of course there have been times when I was filled with doubt about the likelihood of success but I’ve learned a great deal about fuelling the first tentative steps towards any strongly held desire. It outweighs the doubts every time. And I’ve taught hundreds and hundreds of kids over the years and I’ve not been disappointed in any of them….yes, I had to wait a long time for some them. (You know who you are!)

So why am I writing about this now? Because I might have let low expectations stop me from writing for many years. Because I forgot to be my own cheer squad when I was accused of being a daydreamer. Because I listened to all the reasons why I couldn’t be a writer. Because I didn’t get my hopes up. 

If you are a parent, teacher, grandparent or coach, or anyone who knows anyone don’t let the first thing you say about a dream be why it can’t happen.  Be the voice that affirms those dreamers and assist the young people in your life to find the path to that goal. Believe in them, particularly when they stop believing in themselves.  And remember, I’m not talking about your expectations, but their expectations. 

“Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Gloria Steinem.

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