Fall is hands down the hardest season when it comes to expectations. After a long, stifling summer, we simply cannot wait for all that comes with the cooling weather and turn of the calendar.
My friends and I joke that often our own expectations are our worst enemy. I would go as far as to say that most of the times when I am mildly upset (read:raging mad) it’s because things didn’t go how I envisioned in my head…and let’s be honest, many of my imaginary days were borderline delusional and definitely unrealistic.
So, let’s talk about fall.
My Instagram feed will soon be CHOCK-FULL of scarves, cider mills, football games, pumpkins, and people that look really skinny in their sweaters instead of like a potato without a neck.
They will be really happy looking (but not at the camera).
Fall is probably my favorite season, but often lets me down. Not because it isn’t great, but because my expectations often set me up for a disappointment.
Here are some examples of what I mean by the large chasm because the fantasies I create in my head and the realities that are more likely to occur:
Apple Orchard Fantasy: I envision a cool day picking apples. The air is crisp and smells like leaves. We laugh as we eat and pick apples, connecting emotionally like we haven’t in months. My husband surprises me with a hot apple cider on a hayride and we snuggle up. We load our bushel with fresh apples and head home to make apple crisp. We take the donuts to go because we ate some apples so feeling pretty full – don’t want to eat ourselves sick because we have portion control.
More Likely Reality: It’s 92 degrees and the ground is wet. My sandals are sticking to the mud and it smells like hot fermentation because the rotten apples are strewn about on the ground. We accidentally spend $60 on apples and try to give them away to people because they will go bad. I’m a ticking time bomb of emotions because my back sweat is unbearable and this is nothing like I envisioned.
Pumpkin Carving Fantasy: I envision another cool day. I open the windows to let the breeze flow through our house. With baked goods in the oven and a fall scented candle burning, it smells like childhood and the future all in one. I’m in an adorable chunky sweater and leggings, feeling fit with a messy bun that hasn’t fallen flat. We carve intricate designs free hand with minimal effort. Clean up is a breeze. We put our pumpkins on the porch to allow the neighbors to enjoy and no one can believe how festive we are.
More Likely Reality: Again, it’s 90 degrees. I do have to open the windows though, because I burnt the apple crisp and it smells like char. We get the pumpkins and attempt to dig the innards out. Cutting a pumpkin is impossible and we almost amputate several limbs. Pumpkin guts everywhere. My messy bun is flat and there is a stringy seed inside my bun that I will find later. I’m in running shorts and a tank top because although it’s October, it is a witch’s caldron outside. Our pumpkins look like a 7 year old did it, yet we display them on the porch anyways in the spirit of fall. They are ransacked by squirrels and destroyed.
Evidence of Squirrel Terrorism.
Raking Leaves Fantasy: Dressed again in a chunky knit sweater and a cute hat, my husband and I work as a team on a cool, fall night. We admire the beauty of the fall colors throughout the neighborhood. We rake in sync, making quick piles and effortlessly bagging them. Flirting, my husband tackles me into a pile and we get in a leaf fight. We take a quick break for a hot cup of tea which we enjoy on the porch, then we finish up the last two piles as the chilly air gets just a little too cool. There’s not a leaf in sight, just vibrant green grass against the dimming sunlight. Tired, but feeling accomplished, we know we are done for the season.
Reality: We have one rake so we (Max) does it alone. As a gift, I rake one time before he gets home from work and I announce it was my last. The leaves never stop. It’s a cycle meant to drive someone mad. There are blisters involved, rakes catching on the grass, and getting leaves into bags remains one of life’s greatest mysteries. No matter how much you rake, more leaves fall. And more. You finish, exhausted and drained. There’s still the backyard so you give up and let the winter snow defeat you and choose to bag soggy leaves in April instead. You leave the rake in the yard and go inside to eat more of the Halloween candy you bought early for the trick or treaters but now have to buy another bag.
Fall Saturday Expectation: We get up at a reasonable time and make breakfast. The morning air is refreshing as we walk and talk and connect, coffees in hand. We have the perfect amount of productive and relaxing filled with fall activities.
Reality: We sleep in til 10. My husband doesn’t drink coffee. Football game lasts 5 hours. The next one lasts 4. I’m mad it’s dark and we didn’t do anything fall related.
The one and only time I raked last year. The irony is a leaf blowing company was parked right across the street as I suffered and they blew the neighbors’ leaves around.
In fall and in life, I am working on not being sabotaged by my expectations. How much life do I miss out on because my reality doesn’t measure up to what I think it should? How many small, amazing moments vanish because I’m pouting over the temperature or we are running late so everything will be ruined?!
As I get older I realize that so many of my “lows” come from this very thing.
Birthdays and holidays are often some of my hardest days, because they did not “meet” my unrealistic expectations.
I am working on adapting and adjusting my attitude when things don’t go my way…or in other words, when life happens and it isn’t how I think it should be. As I type it, it sounds almost toddler-esque, and really, it is, but I think it’s also very human.
This fall will be the best. Not because we won’t have hot days and ransacked porch pumpkins or eternal raking, but because I am working on my attitude.
Making the best out of maybe not-so-ideal situations is going to be my mantra- both big and small. Here’s to rolling with the punches and realistic expectations!
Happy *Almost* Fall. This tree at our house in November makes the leaves ALMOST worth it.