If you’ve read any of my other articles, chances are you know that I go to school in the mountains of New Hampshire, which sometimes make my blustery Massachusetts hometown seem balmy. This February has been especially brutal, with temperatures dropping to negative seventeen in the daytime. Regardless, as Valentine’s day approached, I swung by the store to pick up Valentines to make all my friends (a tradition that should carry over far past elementary school, in my opinion). Unfortunately, most of them live off campus, which entails a walk across what I can only describe as a frozen tundra on the best of days. Still, I wanted to hand deliver them to show them how much I appreciated all of them.
When I finally arrived, my cheeks were hurt from the cold and you could have plucked the icicles hanging from my nose. Nevertheless, I delivered the boxed Barbie valentines with a flourish, ready for them to drop to their knees and declare their everlasting love for me. They were all very grateful, but not the degree I’d expected, and I walked back to my dorm feeling upset. After all, I’d just gone outside to deliver these valentines. Didn’t that count for anything?
Feeling under appreciated can really suck, to put it lightly. When everyone is bustling in and out of their very busy lives, it can seem like no one takes the time to thank you for all you do. Whether it’s work or children, everyone’s plate is pretty full. Even if they’re busy, they should still thank you, though! Right?
Well, I think a lot of the disappointment that comes with the feeling of under appreciation is having expectations and motives attached to our gestures. When I gave them the valentines, I not only wanted my friends to be happy, but I also wanted them to fawn over me and shower me with praise. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing–we’re human, and we all want the people we love and respect to love and respect us in return. We all desire validation, too, and we often seek that through gestures that show others how much we like them. It doesn’t make us insincere–just average. It can set us up for failure, though, and that’s where the violation of expectation lies.
Unless you’re surrounded by a bunch of terribly insensitive individuals, most people to try to show their appreciation in ways they know how to. Often, they don’t feel like they’re enough, but if you look hard enough, they’re there. No one is ever going to be exactly how you want them, and, chances are, you aren’t exactly how your loved ones want you to be either. Instead of feeling like people don’t do enough for you, try focusing on the big picture. Chances are it’s much prettier than the small one.