There’s a concept I’ve been struggling with for some time now, which I may have a tiny new light of understanding of, reflected in the title of this entry, “Representing Expectations.” This is about the complex differences between what people desire, what they request, and what they expect, and how these different things interact with one another.

First, you have desire. Desire is what people want. This is complex because people can feel a want, which may or may not come from a need, and they may misinterpret it. Desire manifests in so many different ways, it’s enough to drive people crazy — part of growing up is learning to discern what you want and need and how to get these things.

Then, you have the request. This is what people ask for, which is sometimes, but not always, based on what they want. If they don’t know what they want, they might ask for the wrong thing, or they might ask for one thing to get another. This can be incredibly twisty because it can be straightforward, or include layers of manipulation.

Finally, you have expectations. See, now, if things were as simple as “person has want A, asks for A, and gets A,” this world would experience significantly less conflict. But expectations can really get in the way here, because expectations change everything. “Want A, ask for B, expect C, get B. Unsatisfied, then ask for C, expecting A, get C.”

You know, even if you’re an enlightened enough person to separate wants and needs at the A-level, where you can tell “I need this, which is why I want that. The reason I’m asking for something else is because I know it will get me what I need, which will take care of my need and eliminate this extraneous and potentially unhelpful want.”

Needs, if unfulfilled, affect behavior. Behavior is a symptom in this context, and is treated a certain way, which informs expectations. Let’s say you need something and are unable to express this need. It goes unfulfilled and you accumulate stress. This stress affects your behavior and you become irritable.

Now, people respond to your irritability and that effects your expectations. You know that if you need something and ask for it, it triggers a certain response — if you’re unaware of the different stages, or perhaps unaware that you became irritable and that’s what they were responding to — you wind up losing out on things.

Later on, you’ve developed an expectation: when you need something and ask for it, you know that it will go unfulfilled. You know to ask for something else because that’s how you’ll get what you need, even if you’re aware of the disconnect between needing one thing and asking for another. You expect that you won’t get what you need.

So, getting back to how this pertains to me. I first became aware of the disparity of wants and needs, and slowly, unconsciously realized I was already aware of the difference between requests and expectations, and had been frustrated by them for years. “People don’t ask for what they need,” I thought. “They lie. They’re broken.”

But then I realized there are so many more factors involved. Not only can there be a breakdown in the recognition of wants (effects) versus needs (causes), but further complicating matters is that misinterpretation of wants can lead to needs going unfulfilled, which triggers additional needs (reduce stress) and wants (skip school).

Expectations are a long-term effect of meeting needs, whether they’re good or bad. Getting wants makes you feel good, filling needs is necessary for survival. Meeting expectations reinforces those expectations, whereas missing expectations triggers some bad feelings. People who engender false expectations … hoo boy, steer clear.