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Expectations versus Reality

As this year comes to an end, I am sure we are all starting to reflect on the past year. Maybe you are looking at the goals you set at the beginning of 2020 to see if you accomplished any of them. Maybe you are thinking about new relationships you formed throughout 2020. Maybe you are reflecting on all the challenging and unexpected events and situations that happened in 2020. Maybe you are celebrating events that happened for you personally this past year because even though it has been a very difficult year, there have also been good things that have happened. I do not want to minimize the pain and trauma so many people have experienced throughout this year, but I also do not want to minimize the good things that have happened too. If this year has taught me anything, it is that life is never what we expect.

Healthy expectations can be very beneficial to our mental health. They can help motivate us and also give us something to look forward to. Unfortunately, at times our expectations can become a bit rigid without us even realizing it. Having rigid expectations can impact not only our mental health but also our relationships and self-image. As we move forward into 2021 it is important to still have expectations, but to do our best to counter the rigid expectations or thoughts. Try to not have very specific expectations but allow for flexibility. Life is going to happen, even if it is not what we expect. And the things that life throws at us (a pandemic for example) are going to impact those expectations. I am not in any way suggesting you should not set goals for 2021. Quite the contrary actually. I am a firm believer in setting goals and think they are incredibly important for our overall well-being, but we must all be aware of our goals and the specificity of them. A question you can ask yourself is if you would suggest similar goals to a friend or family member? If not, then you might want to reevaluate your goals. Be sure to set goals and expectations in a manner that is compassionate and kind to yourself. That way if you don’t accomplish your goals or if your expectations do not become reality, you do not experience more heartache or frustration. 

Ultimately, the beauty of life is that our expectations do not always become reality. Life is not meant for us to have expectations, see those expectations come to life, and then repeat. Even though that is important to happen every once in a while, it is not going to happen all of the time. I am sure most of you can agree, but some of the most beautiful things that have happened in my life were completely unexpected and for that I am so thankful.

I know 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for so many people and I do not want to minimize the loss, grieve, and heartache so many individuals have felt. But I also want to recognize that there has been GOOD moments in this year. There is good to celebrate and that is what I am clinging onto as we move into 2021. We have no idea what 2021 will hold, but I hope you find the beauty in whatever your reality is, even if it is not what you expected.


Katie Zimmerman, Project Coordinator for The Kim Foundation

Katie Zimmerman joined The Kim Foundation in June 2019. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies and Sociology from Central College in Pella, Iowa. During her time in college, she volunteered at many non-profit organizations and took multiple sociology classes which focused on mental health. Katie’s role at The Kim Foundation includes running the social media accounts, assisting in the Youth Advisory Council, and providing mental health awareness and education to the community through A Voice for Hope and Healing presentations.