When you have great expectations

One thing I’ve always loved about Michael Jordan is that he had complete confidence in all situations he faced.

He expected to win every single time he stepped out on that court—even when homeboy had the flu.

Last week was the NFL Draft, which is a time when a lot of expectations are put on a lot of young men. Myles Garrett, the top pick out of Texas A&M, was taken by the Browns, and that top spot is full of great expectations. When you’re the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, you’re the No. 1 pick for a reason: People expect great things out of you.

But what if you don’t live up to them?

Sure, there have been some No. 1 picks who have been pretty incredible. You might recognize names like Earl Campbell, Bo Jackson, Troy Aikman, and Peyton Manning—a handful of players who continued to live up to the hype around them. But then there have been some top picks who have been real busts. Does anyone remember Ryan Leaf, who was the No. 2 pick right after Manning in 1998? Not the Chargers’ best decision. Then there’s Alex Smith, who was the top overall pick in 2005 and went to the 49ers, but he did bigger and better things in his college glory days. I could go on, but I’m going to stop here.

The fact of the matter is that draft selections have a lot on their shoulders. I mean, the Cowboys picked a fella named Taco this year with purpose: We expect him to make our defense better.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having great expectations in certain situations. However, you do have to be prepared for the possibility that your expectations don’t pan out—and you have to know that it’s OK if that happens.

When I used to play soccer, I expected to score a goal every game. I know that might sound a little ridiculous, but it was something I believed I could do, and so I expected to score or at least do every possible thing I could to try in every single game. And, for the most part, I did that. Yes, there were games when I didn’t get goals, but I wasn’t super let down by that because I knew I had done what I could and that I would have future opportunities to score other goals.

But not all great expectations are as simple.

I expected to be a great dancer, but I never took any dance classes. Lord only knows where I got that outfit.

When I was a little girl and even a teenager, I fully expected my life as an adult would be like all of the fairy tales and romantic comedies I had seen growing up (darn you, Disney and romcom creators). I guess I never really thought I would find myself in my 30s and still doing the single thing. Yet here I am. And, for some reason, this one is harder to accept than not scoring a goal in every soccer game.

There have been times I’ve had crushes on guys and expected absolutely nothing to happen. Then there have been other times when I’ve actually had some hope and expectations—but zilch happened. In those instances, I felt kind of like Rachel in Friends in the episode when she buys that ridiculously expensive cat that she expects will be just like the one she had when she was a kid, but it turns out to be much more of a painful investment than she thought possible.

And, because of her high expectations, she had a great amount of disappointment when they weren’t met.

I was meeting a friend somewhere recently, and while I was waiting, I started chatting with a woman next to me who was scrolling through a dating app. She told me a funny story about a date she had and then mentioned how it was really difficult to meet the right person. I asked her what type of person she was looking for, and then she asked me the same. After we talked for a little bit, she asked me if maybe I thought my expectations were too high for someone to meet. I told her no—I know nobody is perfect, but I think it’s OK to believe someone out there is perfect for me.

And I do think that. At the same time, though, I have to go back to that young girl on the soccer field who thought that scoring a goal was the determinant of success. But it’s not. You don’t grow as a soccer player by getting a goal every game; you grow by pushing yourself through every moment of every game, regardless of the outcome, and putting forth your best effort for all of the other members of your team. It’s great to expect those goals to happen—but it’s even more wonderful to learn how to respond to the moments when they don’t. So I need to be prepared and alright with the idea that nobody is perfect for me, and this single thing is a forever thing.

We certainly aren’t always going to get what we want in life, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having great expectations, especially when it comes to the desires of our hearts. And maybe doing so can even help us treat others better: If you expect people to love you the way you are, love them for the individuals they are; if you expect people to care about you, care for others; if you expect people to remind you how much they value you, let those around you know just how valuable they are.

I can’t sit here and say everything I hope for will come true, but I can expect that I’ll end up where I’m meant to be, and it will be good.

So maybe we should all “be like Mike” and not be afraid to have great expectations.

That time I had a dating app for about 12 hours

There are many times in life when I should stick with my initial gut instinct.

Like when it comes to avoiding dating apps.

Even though many people have often encouraged me to do so, I’ve never wanted to join online dating sites or apps. I realize it works for some people and has even resulted in long-term relationships and marriages, but I just don’t have a desire to do it.

Which explains zilch about my actions last Wednesday.

I was standing with my friend Amanda, waiting for a work meeting to begin, and for some reason I don’t know, I turned to her and said I was thinking about downloading a dating app. She said I should and then help me set it up and showed me how to use it.

Before the day ended, I deleted it.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not really even seeking anyone. Do I eventually want to find the person I love who loves me back and forgets everyone else when I walk into a room? Sure. But I don’t want to force it. Maybe I was just feeling emotional or frustrated that day—I’m not exactly sure what made me make that temporary rash decision, because I knew as I was downloading it that it wasn’t really what I wanted to do.

It could be that I was looking for something to help me get over the heartache I’ve been going through, because absolutely nothing seems to be working. I don’t like this type of pain—it’s so much more difficult to ignore than physical pain is. It hurts a lot when someone plays with your heart and emotions for months and then decides to show you that he doesn’t actually care about you at all and really doesn’t even care about the friendship you had, either. So maybe I downloaded the app to try to forget about that.

Shocker: It didn’t work.

Sometimes sitting in trees makes me feel better.

I’d rather meet someone by getting hit with a frisbee at a park or by making some comment that he finds endearing on a random encounter (yes, I know I watch too many romantic comedies). I usually don’t like surprises, but in this case, I want it to be something that takes me by surprise. And I want it to be something that makes me forget about the past broken hearts—not because I tried but because that’s simply how naturally powerful it is.

When I was a freshman in high school, I went to the local YMCA with my sister, and I told her to lie about her age (she was one year too young) so we could get in and go play basketball without our parents there. She got yelled at by a lady who worked there, and we had to leave. She cried the whole walk home and wouldn’t talk to me. Our mom saw us as she was driving home and picked us up, and then my sister wouldn’t talk to me in the car, either. She went straight into her room, shut the door and continued not to talk to me. I’m well aware that I had been a horrible older sister that day and deserved it. But this was my baby sister, and I needed to make her feel better.

Cue LeAnn Rimes.

I took our family boombox (ah, the glory days) into her bed room and sang “The Light in Your Eyes” to her. I apologized, she forgave me, and that song has held a special place in our hearts ever since.

So I wasn’t surprised when she called me on Sunday morning when I was very upset, and she busted out some of the lyrics. I had been training for months for a half marathon I was supposed to race that day, but recent kidney issues and some new back pain prevented me from being able to run without pain for the past few days. I woke up Sunday in enough pain to know that 13.1 miles would only make things a lot worse. I texted my sister later that morning to see if she was awake, and she immediately called me. I told her that I felt like the rain just wasn’t stopping, and she told me that there was only one thing she needed to remind me of in that moment.

Life can take your dreams and turn them upside down
Friends will talk about you when you’re not around
Reality can really cut you down to size
But don’t ever lose that light in your eyes

Keep on shining
Keep on smiling
Don’t lose faith, and don’t lose heart
When you’re crying
Just keep trying to remind yourself
You’re a shining star
Yes, you are

It was exactly what I needed to hear.

I know that broken hearts don’t last forever. They might last longer than we want them to, but the wounds will heal. It’s often difficult to remember that during the tough times, but it’s good to have people like my sister around to sing to you to remind you.

Things won’t always go the way we want them to, but it’s OK to hope that they will. That’s why I’m going to continue to avoid the online stuff and dating apps—because I want to believe that maybe one day I really will be taken by surprise when I least expect it.

But even if I do stay single forever, I’ll still let the song remind me: Don’t ever lose that light in your eyes.