Burning Bridges



I love the first day of the year, it is filled with the sort of magic that Santa is made of. Totally not real at all, but at the same time…it’s everything.

You woke up this morning believing in yourself a whole lot more than you did yesterday. There’s a goal you want to accomplish, and today you love yourself enough to take the first step in achieving it.

What is this magical element that makes this all possible? A blank calendar of course.

I have to admit, I’m obsessed with calendars. I love layering my life in pencil on the empty boxes. I love highlighting the things I do by subject. I love to-do lists, and post-it notes, and being a pinteresty pinner. My absolute favorite thing in the world to do, and don’t you dare tell a soul, is to go into an office supply store and just imaging how the things that I might buy will make me ten times the organized junkie that I am right now.

And for one day a year, everyone else is just like me. It’s fabulous.

But for some, and when I say some, I mean nearly all of us, these goals that we bring into the new year  are usually born of expectations not met the year before.

That’s no fun. Somewhere along the line we replace the world goal with the word expectation.

Expectations make me want to burn down bridges.

A couple of months ago, I had this really great lunch date. I was super excited because it was with an acquaintance that I see from time to time at writer events. However, because we’re both there with business in mind, we never get more than a few minutes to exchange pleasantries. Emails were exchanged and a date was set. We had a lovely chat about all the fun things, and I was having such a good time. It was the perfect date, until it wasn’t. There had been something on my mind, for a while at that point. Expectations in a relationship with another person, which unfortunately were not met. This poor date of mine asked me the question that was the proverbial crack in the dam and before we both knew it, I had flooded the restaurant with bitter emotions.

Check please!

This was not my finest hour and I went home knowing that there was a very big bridge I would need to burn down if I was ever going to get any peace.

But then I realized something terrible. Or wonderful. Or….enlightening? I don’t know.

This person, I love them. But they are not who I need them to be. And the truth is, they never were. Expectations, my expectations brought them to that bridge.

Is it their fault that I put them in a place where they never asked to be? Be given a responsibility that they had never wanted?

No. They’ve promised me noting, they’ve told me no lies.

But is it my fault for bringing them here, because I see the best in them? Because I want them to be here?

No. Love is blind.

I can’t burn this bridge. Love is also unconditional. But I can put my match down and walk away.

I give you your freedom. I give me my peace.

I think a lot of us could remember that. Not about the bit burning a bridge (or not) with a loved one, but the bit about the difference between goals and expectations.

A goal is an aim for desired result. An expectation is the belief that it will happen.

At some point this year, you will feel the shift. The happy, cheery goals of January will be the expectations that strangle you in July.

In November, I was reminded of the difference between these two words daily.  November is National Novel Writing Month and there is an organization called NANOWRIMO who encourages you to stop living your crazy life, and just write. The end game is to write 50, 000 new words in those 30 days. I wasn’t sure if I could do it, and honestly, it was insane trying to. But I did it, and I am very proud of myself. In that month, I fell in love with a whole new world of people that I cannot wait to introduce you to.

But every day, I got emails. They weren’t reminders of what I was and wasn’t doing. They were reminders that NANOWRIMO didn’t expect anything from me. They didn’t need anything from me. Here’s a little inspirational quote to remind you to believe in yourself. Nothing happened if I wouldn’t reach my goal. In fact, in the months since I’ve discovered only a tenth of the people who participate actually complete it. They reminded me, daily that this was a goal. Not an expectation. If I reached it, then great! I get a T-shirt! And if I didn’t, then at least I was that much closer.

I sit here with my 2017 calendar and it is filled with goals. I will remind myself every day to do my best not weigh myself down with expectations.

Hell, maybe when the year is done, I’ll even buy myself a T-shirt.

One thought on “Burning Bridges

  1. I think a T-shirt just might be a really fun reward. I have never thought of that. Or a trip to someplace I really want to go. Or… or… I have never rewarded myself for goals completed. And in 2016 I made 8 and completed 6 of them. They were pretty big life goals covering the spectrum — emotional, mental, physical, relational, spiritual, financial, educational, and organizational. Succeeding in those 6 has made this year’s dream goal setting a little harder. So keeping and expanding them, please actually succeeding at the ones not finished. Well that will be the kicker!
    Bridge burning held off for another year is not a bad goal. Re-evaluate that ‘friendship’ one more time at the end of 2017. That one is what I just might do with my broken one as well. Putting down the match.


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