Someone recently asked me if I considered myself high maintenance. Before you’re offended on my behalf because we share an assumption that being high maintenance is a bad thing, let me say she’s a wonderful young women and I respect her a lot. I think she’s working on finding her place in this world and is interested in how others see themselves as she’s working on her own self-view. Her question really caught me off guard, however, because I do start with the assumption that being high maintenance isn’t a desirable trait. To me, it conjures up images of demanding whatever is best of you whenever it suits you. It’s complaining about not getting the perfect table. It’s whining about things not going exactly your way. It’s all about you all the time. Quite frankly, the thought of it being about me all the time is exhausting.
I thought about it and told her I didn’t consider myself high maintenance, but rather, I knew what I wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it or ask for it. Perhaps that does make me high maintenance. When I’m excited, I want you to get excited to. When I work hard, I want you to work just as hard. When I prioritize something, I want you to do the same. And maybe that’s another definition of high maintenance. I think of it as wanting to share what I find interesting with someone else. And the people I keep closest to me do often share those same values, which makes it fun.
When relaying this conversation to another friend, he had a good laugh (clearly, I’m a little higher maintenance on his scale than my own). But he did think about it for a minute and reframed it this way – he said he believed I had high expectations. And unlike the label of high maintenance, having high expectations resonated immediately. Yes, I absolutely have high expectations of those around me. I expect you’ll be excited because I’m excited. I expect we’ll work hard together. I expect we’ll share similar priorities. I expect these things because we’ve chosen to come together in life – as friends, colleagues, or partners. We share a common purpose on some level, and that drives our expectations. I hold myself to those same expectations when it comes to you because you matter to me. Your excitement, work ethic and priorities matter to me. And I am more than okay with those expectations of me.
And sure, your high expectations may let you down from time to time. And that’s okay. But it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop expecting the best from people. I will proudly wear the label of high expectations, and I can’t wait for you to surpass them.