These things we all have, but cannot necessarily define.
When you send someone a text message, you expect them to reply. When you go into a clothes shop, you expect clothes of perfect quality and good service from the shop assistant. When you go to see your favourite singer in concert, you expect them to deliver a performance you can rave about with your friends for weeks to follow.
You feel contentment when your expectations are met, and disappointment when they aren't.
People can crack under the pressure of others' expectations - and people can crack under the pressure of their own.
So why would all of this be any different at Christmas?
Christmas. "It's the most wonderful time of the year" - Andy Williams. "Everyone's dancing merrily in the new old-fashioned way" - Brenda Lee. "Snow is fallin', all around me, children playin', having fun, it's the season of love and understanding, Merry Christmas, everyone" - Shakin' Stevens.
Yes, if the popular Christmas songs are anything to go by, it's the special time of year where everyone is happy, merry, jolly, dancing, smiling, laughing and generally having a wonderful time.
Personally, I have a mother who has learned to 'tolerate' Christmas (and all that it entails) 😉 - and a father who starts playing Christmas songs as soon as the clock strikes midnight on December 1st! (Well, exaggeration promotes understanding ... 😉) But - it's not Christmas in itself that's the issue.
It's the expectations surrounding it.
You've probably heard of the Danish word "hygge". Pronounced hoo-guh, it's a concept that's been noticed by other countries lately (the Danes are - don't ask me how - known for being the happiest nation in the world, so I'm not surprised their hygge is of interest overseas!). Hygge is basically a feeling of cosiness, often achieved when surrounded by good friends, candles and warmth, after a delicious meal - perhaps it's raining or snowing outside and you're comfortable in your armchair with blankets and cushions next to the fireplace. Hygge is homemade biscuits, quiet reading time, a relaxed ambience.
Christmas - is hygge.
The translation of the above image, which I found on a Danish website dedicated to the funniest stories from the popular app Jodel, is roughly as follows:
"My mother during Christmas: "Now we shall hygge! Now we're having a good time. Are you having a good time? Are you!?! Have fun!! FUN!!" #TheChristmasDictator"
((... in other words, it's NOT my mum! 😂😂))
I laughed at the time and kept scrolling - and here I am now, using a random stranger's old Jodel story in my blog post! But it illustrates my point perfectly. My point that this festive season - Christmas and New Year - is full of, you guessed it, expectations. Expectations that you MUST enjoy it, you MUST have fun, you MUST be happy ... and so on.
Now, I'm not dismissing the fact you should be grateful when someone gives you a gift, cooks a nice dinner or takes the time to call you amidst the hectic December period. There are plenty of expectations that are perfectly valid. I've just been thinking that there's an awful lot of pressure to perform around Christmas and New Year, and that perhaps not everyone can live up to it.
Here's a quick questionnaire:
Do you have a loving family?
Can you afford the often manic, last-minute insanity (Black Friday, anyone?) that is gift shopping?
Are you able to go food shopping, prepare meals and host get-togethers for groups of family and friends?
(My parents are.)
Do you have friends to celebrate with?
If you can answer yes to the above questions, you're pretty darn fortunate. Some don't have a family. Some cannot afford to buy gifts. Some are unable, for whatever reasons, to organise and carry out social get-togethers. And some simply spend their Christmas/New Year alone.
Like the rest of us, I'm sure they're well aware of the expectations surrounding the festive period.
On a much smaller scale, I remember when I felt enormous pressure to be social, out and about on New Year's Eve - because I knew people who were celebrating it with all their friends and I thought that was what you were 'supposed' to do. Turns out there are other creatures like me who don't go about painting the town red on December 31st. Honestly, if I could, I would have told my teenage self DON'T WORRY - nobody's expecting it of you! Sometimes, what you think others expect of you can be just as detrimental to your health ... been there, done that, bought the T-shirt.
(Danish friends: that's an expression meaning "I know how it feels" 😆)
Ten years and a diagnosis later, I guess I don't care so much about that kind of thing any more. And, to be honest, I'm realising that what's 'meant to be' will happen - in its own time. Why put the strain on myself to be 'all-singing, all-dancing' when I'm more of an 'all-writing, all-thinking' kinda girl? Why do anything other than what feels right for me (while not completely disregarding the needs of others, of course)? My health comes first. Only I can make it number one priority. Perhaps, in 2020, I will learn to manage my expectations so that I won't be utterly crushed if they aren't met - and will be pleasantly surprised when they are.
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What you do think others expect of you? What do you strive for? Do you believe in New Year's resolutions?
(Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments - and feel free to not. There's no expectation from my side ... 😉)