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When my best friend broke my heart at 15 by ditching me for a cooler group of girls, I still remember what my dad told me.

“You have to lower your expectations of people.”

I’m still trying to figure out if this is possible.

Most of the hurt in my life — and most people’s lives — comes from misaligned and unintentional expectations. Expectations are like vomit. You often don’t know they’re there until it’s too late. They’re already rising to the top, and there’s no stopping it when you already feel it coming.

What the stories and movies don’t tell you is that it’s not always a boy that doesn’t choose you. Sometimes it’s a family member. Sometimes it’s a job. Sometimes it’s a team or a play or club. Sometimes, it’s a friend. And the cut always feels extra deep when it’s carved by someone you love — intentionally or not.

I’m not 15 anymore, but there are still times I’m not chosen at 24.

The difference is, now I see the magic in not being chosen.

When you aren’t chosen, you have the chance to reclaim your power. You have the chance to translate that energy into something else; to dig into your work, your passion, or even other people who actually give a shit about you.

You have the chance to choose yourself.

At 15, I used to be ashamed of being disappointed by people. I felt guilty for being upset; for stirring the emotional pot. At 24, I see the joy in it. I think to myself: “Thank goodness this didn’t go on for any longer. Thank goodness for this lesson.” And I move on.

So dad, I guess the real question I’ve been asking myself all these years isn’t whether or not it’s possible to lower your expectations of people. It’s whether you should have to.

We live in a world where passiveness and mediocrity — in friendship, in love, in anything — has become standard. But that doesn’t have to be your norm.

Keep your standards high. Allow those who embrace the challenge to remain close. Cherish them. And let those who don’t, fade away. You simply don’t need them.

The magic of it all is that the choice was never with them. It was always with you. And it still is.

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