Changing My Expectations

In other news -- is he the cutest little pumpkin you've ever seen, or what?

In other news — is he the cutest little pumpkin you’ve ever seen, or what?

I have never enjoyed politics. I don’t like watching the news and hearing about how much the democrats hate the republicans, and vice versa, I cannot stand the political ads online or over commercial breaks around election time, and I have no patience for government shut-downs that threaten my financial security. As much as a I detest politics, I have no choice but to face the reality of our current economy and decisions by our government leaders.

Unfortunately, taking a minute to understand what is really going on in the political spheres, is a sure-fire way to make me unhappy with the state of my country. This year, my family has been hit hard by the realities of a broken government. My husband who works very hard for the Air Force as a civilian financial specialist, was furloughed for several days this summer. His job was also threatened by the government shut-down that occurred a couple of weeks ago.

My dad raised me to be a very hard worker. I get up early, I got to bed late, and I give 120% to my gym clients, and my web-marketing clients through the day. If I am not literally collapsing into bed at the end of the day, I feel as if I did not fulfill my goals and mission for the day. Many would call me a workaholic. My husband works very hard as well and always seeks to go above and beyond at work. When he gets home from work, I often ask him,  “Were you valuable today?”

Here’s the problem … in the past, Brandon and I had an expectation that hard work equaled reward. We might have even gone as far to think that hard work equaled entitlement to good benefits, job promotions, and an easier life.

Turns out we were wrong …

In today’s economy, hard work does not equal entitlement. Hard work equals exhaustion at the end of the day, and a sense of fulfillment that we did as much as we could for our clients and our employers. But it does not mean that we are entitled to good benefits, job promotions, or an easier life.

Today I went to the dermatologist for a yearly check-up. I had a suspicious mole that the doctor wanted to remove. I called my insurance company to check on the charge of the procedure before I opted to go through with it. Turns out, the “good” insurance that we pay top dollar for through Brandon’s job, and work very hard to receive, covers only a small percentage of the procedure, after a $150 copay that is in addition to a $35 copay I already paid, and then I have to pay 30% of the lab fees, and for any creams, etc, that are given to me. So, in short — getting a very small mole removed (2 second procedure) would cost me a few-to-several hundred dollars (at the very least).

Ultimately, I turned down the procedure. But here’s where things went downhill. As I was leaving the doctor’s office, I glanced in the waiting room and saw many people with a variety of economic status’, ages, races, etc. I walked to my car and immediately started making assumptions about the people sitting in the waiting room thinking things like the following, “I bet she chooses to be a stay-at-home mom to her 3 kids even though she has the ability to work, gets government aid, and will get several things taken care of at no cost to her at the dermatologist today.” And frankly, I am probably right — and frankly, that made me a little frustrated because I had an expectation that since my husband and I both work very hard, we should be rewarded by not having to pay hundreds of dollars for a very small procedure.

But, here’s what I realized. In order to stay happy in the US today with our current political leaders and current economic and political situations … I have to change my expectations.

I work hard, Brandon works hard, and we are extremely thankful for wonderful careers. Personally, I juggle two careers — two professions that I absolutely love and am passionate about. I’m a personal trainer to some of the best clients in the world, and I am a web-marketing consultant and specialist for amazing clients who I choose to work with because I am passionate about their brands/companies/institutions.

My plan is this — I am going to continue working my butt off for as long as I live. We will do everything to the best of our ability because it is a responsibility that we have. We are not entitled to benefits, or more money, or even extended contracts.

I will work my tail off, collapse into bed at the end of the day, and be extremely thankful for blessings along the way. Not because I deserve them, but because God chose to bless us.

And here’s the thing. As I look around at the people around me — there are always going to be many who are not working hard, who do feel a sense of entitlement, who think they are superior to me. And that’s ok. I do not envy lazy people nor do I want to be a person who feels they are special or superior.

Brandon and I are only 26 and 27. We potentially have a long life ahead of us. I do not want to live in bitterness toward others or my government. I am choosing to change my expectations and ultimately my attitude. I choose to be thankful for my current situation, and committed to contentment.

What about you? Do you have a sense of entitlement or bitterness toward those who do? How do you plan to change your circumstances or your attitude today?

* I believe that I need to add a small disclaimer to this post because it is hitting a nerve with many of my readers in a way that I never intended (see comments below). This post is simply me sharing my thoughts about changing my expectations. There was no “woman with three kids” at the dermatologist yesterday. In fact, I was the only mom there with kids running around, and trust me — Emma was literally running around. I used the mom as an example, and in retrospect, it was a poor example. I have nothing against stay-at-home moms. I have many friends and clients who are SAHMs and I am a WAHM. That was not [in any way] my message. However, I do have an immediate family member (a sister) who is a mom of three and works the system like no one I’ve ever met. I’ve seen welfare and court systems manipulated in ways I could never imagine (first hand), and by a sister no less.  I truly appreciate people taking the time to read my blog and dialogue. However, I do not respond to anonymous comments. I would be happy to dialogue with anyone via email as well if you prefer.

15 thoughts on “Changing My Expectations

  1. christiekoester says:

    I know, it stinks. I had three moles removed this past summer – $500+ ( I work full-time and very hard too. I have a 1.5 year old. My hubby works 70+ hours a week. I blog. I cook. I workout. I play volleyball. My head wants to roll off some days. My friend (our age) was diagnosed with stage IV melanoma. It’s the most common cancer out there (especially if you fake baked). The peace of mind was worth the $500+ – just knowing that I’ll never have to worry about those moles ever again! There will always be people out there who get the handouts. But Jesus loves them as much as he loves you and me. Seems crazy. But like Miranda Lambert says… All kinds of kinds – keeps the world spinning.

    • Amanda Tress says:

      SO true Christie! I love your last two sentences and completely agree. Wow, maybe I should just get it removed then and fork over the money. I will try to shop around a bit and see if any other doctors use different codes so it would cost me less. Hm. Thanks so much for reading and for your perspective!

      • Laura Logan says:

        Hi Amanda!

        I love your blog. 🙂 I wanted to second Christie’s suggestion of going ahead and getting the suspicious mole removed. When I was 21 I had a mole removed that turned out to be stage 1 melanoma. Thankfully I only had to have additional skin removed (no lymph nodes). 4 years later and I still have to go every 6 months to get checked and so far there haven’t been any more cancerous moles (praise God!). I don’t say that to try to freak you out, but I just wanted to encourage you to maybe go ahead and get it removed. Early detection is the best treatment!

        God bless you & your family,

      • Amanda Tress says:

        Hi Laura, Thanks so much for the comment and advice. WOW, how scary to have melanoma at such a young age!!! Yes, I agree — I really should get it removed. Yes — early detection is definitely so important — thanks so much girl!

  2. Thea says:

    I totally agree! It is so hard to bust your butt every day and merely get by when those around you have all sorts of nice things and don’t even lift a finger due to government aide. To me – it all boils down to the values in this nation. Yes, we can have many different political situations but at the heart of this chaos is a lack of good morals and values! As you mentioned, our parents raised us to know the value of hard work and to never accept being lazy. Our society has changed from one of hard working people that literally worked 7 days a week 365 to build this country to one that accepts doing things halfway or “working the system”. I want to instill in my children good, hardworking values like my dad did for me (and your dad as well) so hopefully the will also carry on those values. God blessed most of us with talents and physical capability to put in a full days work, so at the very least, why shouldn’t we honor Him by using our skills and talents to make the world a better place and take care of the families he has blessed us with? It makes me feel better to go to bed at night knowing I put in a full days work and earned my pay (no matter how small) and that I helped somebody. Maybe we can all lead by example, that is my hope. (P.S. love your blog!!!)

    • Amanda Tress says:

      LOVE this Thea. Sounds like we have very similar upbringings and would be good friends. I share your values as well, and I agree — we can lead by example, and keep doing the best that we can do instill the same values in our kids. Sometimes I get very scared for my kids to be growing up in today’s economy/culture, but I know they will be OK 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:


    I find it interesting you chose to use the word “assumption” describing the woman with three children in the doctor’s office. There is an old adage about assumptions, but that’s for another time. Instead of focusing on the many areas where God has blessed your life, you have chosen to look at another person, of whom you have no knowledge whatsoever, and came to a jealous and hateful conclusion. From there, instead of choosing to keep your bigotry to yourself, you thought it was a great idea to spread bigotry on your blog. Your vitriolic comment about stay-at-home mothers shows that you are somewhere between misinformed and conceited.

    I agree with you that there are many people who work the system to get things that are not deserved. I also find it frustrating that my hard work pays for people who choose not to work. However, there is a place in this world for stay at home moms, and as a blogger who writes about parenting- you should know your audience better. I am neither a stay at home mom nor female, but I did appreciate a mother who was able to stay at home with me and her other children. I also don’t choose to make assumptions about working parents, but I could easily spread vitriolic and generalized hate messages that are just as inaccurate. How would you feel if I chose to portray the ideology that you don’t love your children because you let other people take care of them? It’s clearly false and hurtful.

    It makes me sad that you chose this medium to present naive ideas (giving you the benefit of the doubt) that neither empower women nor those in less fortunate positions. Hopefully you will choose to employ better sense in the future to prevent having the taste of rubber in your mouth.



    • Amanda Tress says:

      Hi Don, Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to share your thoughts. I am sorry that you feel that I was being hateful or conceited toward sahm’s because that was not [in any way] the point of this post. In fact, there was no “mom with three kids” even at the doctors office. I was simply sharing an example of an assumption, and obviously picked one that hits a nerve. I was the only person with kids even at the office, and I don’t expect you to understand why I decided to share a thought, “like this one” versus a more specific … but that is what I did. I have friends who are sahms, I myself am a wahm, my mom was a sahm, and I choose to respect other people’s decisions about staying home with their LOs. However, my frustration today was more about working hard to pay for someone else who chooses not work.
      I have worked in the PT industry and seen many people come through our facilities who work the system, and it is frustrating to me. However, I am choosing not to let it get me down anymore. I am going to continue to work hard and to the best of my ability, and I will not let the current political situations cause me to be unhappy throughout the day.
      In retrospect, it was a bad “example” to use — and again, it probably doesn’t make sense to you why I used this one, but I did, and I am sorry you took it to mean I am hateful toward sahms.

      Warm regards,

  4. Anonymous says:

    I also find it interesting and important to bring up the idea of assumptions and how we address and handle them as individuals. Often, we may have great intentions, values, and ideals that we are trying to live out. However, we may not be thinking about the fact that everything about us, from our race, gender, mental health status, physical health status, religion, family upbringing (and family mental and physical health status, and family financial situation, etc.) GREATLY influence our opportunities, experiences, perspectives, and the way we interpret our world.

    It is great that you (and your husband) have identified many of your values and ideals for how you would like to live your lives, raise your family, etc… However, the problem with many of the assumptions in your post is that you seem to be applying your ideals as a right or superior way to live, and thus fill in the blanks about why others don’t live the way you do (which can come across as really condescending). You indicate that people who aren’t working must be stay at home moms, lazy, entitled, leaching off the system, etc…. Have you considered the many other situations that could explain their behaviors?

    The sad thing is, our world isn’t equal. Many people have experienced issues that have affected their ability to work since they were young, such as poverty that leads to being under-educated, parents that were abusive or neglectful, and that’s not even getting into issues of racial discrimination and inequality. We don’t always propose to fix the right things, or don’t always think about what parts of the system are “broken”. We can end entitlement programs, but that doesn’t fix the poor schools in urban neighborhoods with extreme poverty and violence and the resulting issues that make those kids unable to get into top schools… If people haven’t honestly thought about issues such as white privilege, haven’t been so poor that they haven’t had food or experienced homelessness, or haven’t had parents with mental or physical health issues, it can be easy to think that those issues don’t drastically affect a person (possibly even long term).

    So, like Don said above, it is easy to make naive assumptions (I also give you that benefit of the doubt) and not recognize all of the factors that led to your conclusions… and quite frankly, learning to understand others in a way that forces you to look at yourself can be scary and hard. But, as Don pointed out, you alienate much of your audience when you don’t, and you may come across as hateful, ignorant, judgmental, etc.

    I hope you consider taking time to read about issues such as white privilege and racial inequality and really think about them.

  5. Jen says:

    I find it interesting that you put assumptions on strangers in a waiting room on the procedures they may or may not get done. Perhaps your point was about the government relentless inequality to Americans… perhaps you shared your thought to get your point of your new expectations.

    Over this past year of being a reader of your blog I’ve learned a lot about you and we have a lot of life similarities. We live in the same city, both our husband’s are civilian employees were impacted by the summer’s furlough, we are both mothers, we both have love for health and fitness (all great reasons on why I am a reader). When you announced that your new BMW SUV was paid off in full, I thought ‘wow, good for her, I wish we could pay off my new MDX that fast’. When you announced you were building a new home, I thought ‘that’s great! I’m so happy their old home sold so fast for them!’

    The more passionate I become about fitness the more I wish I could become a certified trainer and make that my career. However for my husband and I, there is no way we could afford our new build if I didn’t have my day job. Even though, I probably fall under the category (as you described above) as someone who doesn’t work that hard but feels entitled. I have a great job, but not every day is very demanding- a great example of that is I’m here, leaving this lengthy blog comment during my work hours. But because today I don’t have back to back meetings and a large list of deadlines to meet does not mean I don’t deserve a fair pay and fair benefits.

    Given all our similarities, I don’t make assumptions about you & yours. And while this blog post wasn’t directed towards me- I easily could have been one of those women in that waiting room. Especially since tomorrow morning I’m having two moles removed and will pay the costs you listed above because obviously we have the same insurance.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are people who milk the system. I have an uncle that does, I don’t agree with his actions and I’ve lost all respect for him. So I get it. I get what you’re trying to say. This is your blog, you’re at the liberty to write what you want. And I’m sure your intent was not to have readers feel angry or upset after reading this. Your intent was to state how you are lowering your expectations and embracing the change that has fallen on us Americans from our government.

    I wish you would have chosen different examples. Because, while I don’t feel that I’m superior than anyone, I am that Mom in the waiting room who doesn’t work for her employer till exhaustion but feels entitled to a fair pay and benefits.

    • Amanda Tress says:

      Hi Jen — I truly appreciate you taking the time to read my blog and comment. And you’re right — I absolutely did not want readers to feel upset. My intent was exactly what you listed — lowering/changing my expectations and embracing the change that has fallen on us Americans from our government. If you read my reply to Don, you know that there was no mom in the waiting room (I was the only person with kids even there). It was simply an example I used — and in retrospect, a bad one. I also have a family member, in fact, a sister, who milks the system, and it is extremely frustrating to me. I am very sad that I made you upset reading my post, and I hope that your procedures go well tomorrow.

      • Jen says:

        Amanda, you were so sweet to send me a private email to discuss my feelings. I’m sorry for being such a downer this morning!

        Some positives to comment on: I find it brilliant that you ask your husband if we was valuable today. That’s a way better question to ask than ‘how was your day’. It’s more soul seeking. It’s like taking responsibility for your day- because we have all had challenging work days, but continuing to be valuable and asset requires rising above any crummy situation, you know? I hope to remember that when my son starts school; I’d love to ask him more provoking questions than just ‘how was school?’ when he gets of age.

        And ps, Cole does look super adorable in his pumpkin costume! That’s what our little Oliver is dressing up for trick or treat too!

  6. Trent says:

    This writing makes several valid points, I have two opinions here:

    1. As long as our government rewards the lazy “underperformers” of society, they will not change nor elevate their contributions to society. Likewise, they will cast their votes for whomever is most likely to continue their way of life.
    2. The culture of political correctness has all
    but ruined effective communication. People are so sensitive to words that are usually not even directed at them… why? When someone threatens the 1st amendment, everybody gets upset over it… and rightfully so. But, when someone says something you don’t like, it’s a problem? Huh? Stop being so damn sensitive, and start being thankful.

    Toughen up, peeps.

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