Leaping The Hurdle Of Low Expectations

I have commented before [1] on the strange disconnect that often exists between my fervor in evaluating things and my strong aversion about being evaluated by others.  While I certainly have a bias and perspective, I consider myself to be a scrupulously fair judge, one inclined to look for the best but also one who has a clear eye when it comes to recognizing what falls short of a standard of competence and excellence.  Yet despite my confidence in my own fairness as a judge, I tend to have a low degree of trust in the fairness and justice of other people towards me.  And this strong aversion to being evaluated as a great many consequences, including an encouragement of a high degree of personal shyness and timidity that many people simply do not expect as well as a strong discounting of even positive opinions towards things I do.  For the most part I simply live with these irritating consequences of my fairly widespread and frequently crippling anxiety, but from time to time it rises above the ambient level of anxiety in my life and reaches the level where I must pay at least some attention to it.

Such a day was today.  Today my boss scheduled all of the “annual [2]” evaluations for our department one after another extending from mid-morning to early afternoon.  Mine was towards the end of the list, which did not help matters.  The process for the evaluation took some months between my own self-evaluation, something I also loathed, and the face-to-face discussion of my manager’s evaluation.  As it happened, we were both on the same page, both of us having assessed my strengths and weaknesses to the same degree and even with the same ratings.  I suppose it might be a good thing to be on the same page with those evaluating me, to know the areas where I was good at and bad at to such a degree that I was as harsh on myself in a formal evaluation as my manager was on me.  Yet I don’t find it particularly much of a comfort, for having accurate self-knowledge given my rather highly critical nature only reinforces my fairly intensely critical attitudes, and that is something I tend to feel deeply ambivalent about.

There are trade-offs to be considered when it comes to the manner of expectations.  If our expectations are too high to the point of being unrealistic, we are faced with the problem that while we may sail along swimmingly at first, the crushing weight of those expectations being ruined may destroy us.  Think of all of those people who are under the illusion that if they are reasonably decent people that life will be kind to them and find themselves subject to all kinds of horrors and trials and difficulties?  On the other hand, there is a high cost of expecting little or nothing, and that is namely that we tend to get what we expect, and worse, we fail to appreciate what we do get because we don’t value it or trust it.  To expect little or nothing so as not to be let down by life means a lack of appreciation and wonder and joy at what life provides that is good.  If such things are often passing rather than lasting and if they bring with them their own trade-offs and mixed aspects, they ought to be celebrated all the same for at least providing a challenge in life and something that is a little less monotonous than life can sometimes be.

How are we to decide the best way to approach life and the question of evaluation?  There is no question of escaping judgment.  If we are self-conscious people–and I know I am–we tend to view every decision we make as being fraught with judgment and evaluation.  We feel that we will be judged for our looks, for our clumsiness or awkwardness, for the way that we park our car, for the squeakiness or jankiness of our shopping cart, for the items we purchase, for the clothes that we are, for the places that we go, for the way that we talk or write, for our mannerisms, and for any little thing that other people can notice or guess about us that they wish to make fun of us about.  To be sure, most people are sufficiently worried and anxious about how they appear to be less than quick to judge or condemn others, but there are some people who are confident about themselves enough that they have no qualms in judging others, no matter how unjust their judgments may be.  We have to find some way of coping with the reality of judgment now and hereafter, however little we may like being judged and evaluated.

[1] See, for example:






[2] I put airquotes around this because while I have been working at the same company for nearly five years, this is only the second time I have had the annual evaluation.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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