Active Travel



Expectations vs Reality

Mar 9, 2018 | life updates, Lifestyle | 23 comments

I’m guilty of setting my expectations too high and feeling disappointed when things don’t quite match up.

I’m a little embarrassed to admit, but it was one of the things I was worried about before my wedding. I wanted everything to be perfect and was concerned that I would feel upset it they weren’t.

We see so many people on Instagram, blogs and youtube showing the highlights. The staged photos of them sitting on window ledges in their 5 star hotels with the perfect backdrops behind them…

image from Fleur de Force 

fleur de force in tokyo

The reality is usually that the view is of a carpark and the widow ledge isn’t wide enough for one bum cheek…

Oh, yes I’m just sitting here looking out at these gorgeous vans with my cup of tea.

expectation vs reality

expectation vs reality

You see bloggers with their towels or robes wrapped round them, promoting the latest beauty product. The reality for most of us is that the hotel towels are so small they won’t cover your modesty and often I don’t even remember to bring my products on holiday so I have to make do with the hotel toiletries.

My favourite expectation vs reality came when a blogger (that I actually like to follow) was caught out for photoshopping the scenery in her photos at the Taj Mahal and in NYC. And the number of influencers I’ve heard that photoshop the images of themselves, to slim down their legs/stomachs/arms, is just plain scary.

Blogging itself often doesn’t live up to people’s expectations. It is far from the glamour that is shared online (for most people), perhaps that’s not the case for the beauty and fashion bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers.

But for me, I joke that it is the worst paid job you could ever do.

I battle with PR companies to be paid for work, I then have to chase to actually get the money once I’ve done the work (one PR company took 11 months to pay). Collaborations are sent over, then the scent goes cold. You think you’ve got a job coming in and then it gets pulled. It can be scary when you’re relying on the money to pay rent etc, and it’s why I’ve worked as a nanny the entire time I’ve been at uni, to ensure I have guaranteed income alongside the blog. But I’m constantly anxious about cash flow. It’s really hard work but luckily, I love blogging.

I think the problem lies with people thinking that life is what we see in those 3 inch squares. A witty caption, a carefully curated image, the perfectly staged moment.

Social media has set the bar so high.

Reality is uglier, funnier, harder, less polished.

We’ll portray the perfect flat lay, the styled outfit but real life is actually the pre-race photo taken in the garish hotel corridor…

Tokyo Marathon Race Recap

Or the post race photo in McDonalds.

Tokyo Marathon 2018 Race Recap

When we set unrealistic expectations of people, situations or things, we can be disappointed when they are not met.

Personally, I’m finding it a real challenge to balance my Dietetics placement, marathon training, social life and blogging. Mine and Tom’s schedules have barely overlapped for the last 6 weeks, with us spending a total of 4 days/evenings together in that time – a combination of his work and mine.

The reality is, I’ve been dealing with some horrid physical manifestations of anxiety at the moment, including the ever so glamourous night sweats. Apparently, it’s something that a lot of us struggle with as a result of high expectations. We focus on what’s wrong and as a result, feel anxious and start to obsess, creating a self-fulfilling property and endless cycle of high expectations leading to low self-esteem and increased anxiety.

I need reminding often that just because I’ve seen something online, does not make it real. There can only be so many big ‘Instagram’ moments, and that the real joys in life are the small things that add up to make your day that bit better.

Like the free coffee when you finish your stamp card at Cafe Nero, or when someone holds the door open, or you get thanked for working hard. When the trains run on time, or you were able to snag a good parking space. When someone was kind to you. Or you were able to show kindness to someone else.

For me, the little things are getting a DM on social media from someone saying how much they enjoy my blog or following me. It’s when they tell me that they were inspired to sign up for a race, or that they’re training for their first marathon.

Whilst I’m not saying that we should lower our expectations of life, I do think that for many of us, myself included, they might need to be adjusted.

“There are two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations.”

Setting such high expectations often sets us up for disappointment. Whether that’s your hotel room view (lol), or your relationship, career, family life or social situations. Looking for the positives, the good things in every situation, has helped me focus, not on whether something is perfect or Instagram worthy, and instead on whether it is good enough.

And laughing when things don’t go quite to plan.

It always helps.


  1. W.Purves.

    Find a way to spend more time with Tom. G.

  2. Sarah Plummer

    I can honestly say your IG posts and blog have helped me enormously over the last year. I never believed i could run London marathon at 50 and go on to want to do so many more (I dream of being a six star finisher!) I love your honesty and your love of running. I love for your posts and enjoy every one of them!

    • charlotte

      This means so much, thank you for sharing! x

  3. Andrea

    Really enjoy your blog, your personality and your openness about your struggles. I have anxiety as well and can say it is nice to see someone openly discuss their struggles. Helps me not to feel like I’m crazy 🙂 Keep doing you, you’re doing a great job!

    • charlotte

      Thank you so much, am so glad it helps. It can feel a bit scary to be so open but I am so happy it helps – it is why I share!

    • charlotte


  4. jack horner

    You “got” me with your double braids!

  5. Stephanie Milkovits

    Great Blog! I feel like your post is something I struggle with as well. I have HIGH expectations for myself when I run and my goals. I’m also getting married this year and I want everything to be perfect. I also struggle with anxiety and you be very open with your struggles makes me feel that I’m not alone. Thanks again for sharing this post! You’re doing a fantastic job!

    • charlotte

      Thank you so much, it means a lot. I really tried to let go at my wedding, and although I did have to reminded when I was stressing about catering, it did help me relax!

  6. marie

    Hope your placement is going well. I remember mine feeling like a 12 week job interview, plus having to drive hours to get home on weekends. How are you managing to fit in all the foreign travel during placement ? Good luck with the rest of it. Once you get qualified it’s much easier. What are your job plans when you’re done? I find running is a good stress relief to everything else, when running becomes an additional stress then it’s time to have a little break/extra sleep.

    • charlotte

      Thanks, it really is. I feel so lucky to be in such a lovely hospital for mine and with such supportive dietitians. Travel is definitely difficult but I’ve been working and sleeping while on the plane and just going straight into hospital on the Monday mornings from the airport! No idea job plans yet but I did love paeds!

  7. Kate

    Night sweats… I’m glad someone else is going through this I thought I was all alone until consulting Dr Google!
    Very similar to you running the London marathon running through Hyde Park before starting a long day at work, zero social life and minimal time with my partner.
    Hang in there – you’re doing fab! Keep blogging I love your relatable reality rather than the polished instagram lives we often see.

  8. Kat

    Just want to let you know, I really like your blogposts and pictures because a picture from a training run is from a training run and not from 5min running and a 2h make up session. I want to get motivation for working out, not for dressing up (I ain’t got time for that… 😉 ). Thank you also for the honest race reports and gear reviews, even if I cant race myself right now, I can satisfy that urge somewhat by reading yours!

  9. taplatt

    Very true – well said. Social media can be great but also poisonous.

  10. Emily HL

    “Reality is uglier, funnier, harder, less polished.”

    YES YES YES!! Love this post and love you blog!

  11. Tess @ FitBits

    Love this! I have high expectations too and sometimes with an overflowing freelance schedule (not complaining, not complaining), training, caring for my mum & mayyyybe the odd blog when I *finally* find time, it’s just not all possible. We’re now moving flats after 6 years in one place so adding to my to do list even more… my insta will stay honest, rough and ready just like me, no perfection allowed!

    Love your blog Charlie, you’ve been smashing it for years

  12. maureengetsreal

    This is perfect! Instagram and social media have made it so hard to set realistic expectations in my opinion. If something isn’t Instagram worthy doesn’t mean it’s bad. If you and the people you love are happy in a given moment then that is what matters.

  13. Cathryn

    I agree! I gave up Insta for Lent because it was making me grumpy – I KNEW I was only seeing the highlight reels but it still made me dissatisfied with my every day life, the life that I love! And talking of wedding perfection – I’m the girl who got dog poo on my wedding dress!!!!

    Keep being honest – I think people are sick of ‘perfection’ and just want a dose of reality so they feel less alone. And I really hope you get to see Tom soon!

    • charlotte

      Hahaha oh dear… I certainly hope people are sick of perfection although there’s a fine line between reality and complaining on social I think! Reality but funny reality is what’s best?!

  14. karenguttridge

    So very true. And often I find that because we set such high expectations for ourselves, from afar everyone thinks we’re superhuman and are just fab at coping with life. If I admit how anxious I’m feeling people will say ‘You?! Never! You’re so together!’ I often wake up with heart pounding and that awful intense knotted stomach – one thing that really helps is regular massages but then I’m useless for the rest of the day! (If you saw me running you’d think I was drunk…)

    • charlotte

      Haha I love the idea of you drunk running. And you’re so right about that, it;’s only since I’ve been opening up about it that people have any idea!

  15. Margaret

    I love this post , needed this mid half marathon training


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