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  • Writer's pictureLeigh Gerstenberger

Managing Expectations

I have a friend who believes that by keeping her expectations low she’s never disappointed. This is probably good advice. I think of the child who always ended up in distress following a birthday celebration or at Christmas as the expectations they had for what they’d be receiving in the way of gifts were never met.

Lower expectations help us keep things in perspective, while high expectations often give us something for which to strive for.

While the expectations we have for ourselves can be a motivator, they can also mess with our self-confidence if not managed properly or kept to a realistic perspective. Think of the young man who at barely 5 feet tall wants to play center in the NBA! While his aspiration is admirable, he’s more than likely setting himself up for disappointment.

Nothing I’ve encountered in life has influenced the expectations I have on others more than being a parent or grandparent. As children come into our lives it’s certainly normal to want them to excel in sports, academics and/or in the community at large.

While sometimes our expectations are met or even surpassed, there are probably just as many times when a child: never developed the athletic prowess that their parent had hoped they would; failed to perform academically or finish college; married the right person; or reached their potential in the parent’s eyes.

Recently I saw a movie that tells the true story of a woman who even though stricken with autism as a child far surpassed the expectations that the medical community (who recommended she be institutionalized at age four) and her family had for her.

Before enrolling in college, famed animal husbandry expert Temple Grandin (Claire Danes) visits a cattle ranch owned by her aunt Ann (Catherine O'Hara) and demonstrates a brilliance for all things mechanical.

Once classes begin, the autistic Grandin rises to meet the intellectual challenges (which culminates in in her earning a PhD) though the social ones are a bit more difficult. Grandin triumphs over prejudice to become an innovator in the field of animal care.

If you’re looking for a story that is truly inspiring view the movie Temple Grandin on your favorite streaming service.

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