Welcome. We’ve been expecting you.
Life is essentially a series of expectations, isn’t it? Ever since you were a baby, you were expected to walk at a certain time and start speaking by 12-18 months old. In school you were expected to get good grades and make it into a good college. As an adult you’re expected to have a successful career, great relationships, and a fabulous social calendar.
Whoa. Talk about pressure.
If you’re like me, then you may have an unrealistic need to constantly be exceeding everyone’s expectations of you (hello, my enneagram type 3-ness). And it comes from many different directions. Your family expects you to be one person, your friends expect another, your teachers and mentors expect to see you have a thriving career, and don’t even get me started on the world of social media expecting you to be perfect every second of the day.
You don’t want to let people down. So you constantly work to be the person everyone else expects you to be. But when was the last time you evaluated who you expect you to be?
For example, I’m in a career where everyone expects you to move to a big city. Actors are expected to live in New York, Chicago, or LA in order to have a successful career. But, honestly, when I look at my personality and my lifestyle, I expect living in any of those places would spike my anxiety and hinder my joy. So I came to Orlando, a place with a smaller theatre community, but also places that bring me happiness like Disney World. And that was a personal decision that only I could make for myself. (For the record, I have friends who are living happily in all those places, which was again, a personal decision only they could make for themselves.)
Did people expect me to make a different choice? Maybe. But their expectations were not relevant to my decision.
It’s so easy to feel beat down and overwhelmed by the expectations of others. But here’s the thing, other people aren’t living your life. The people that create all these great big plans and expect you to pursue your life in a certain way, they don’t have to be there when the pressure gets too intense and you’re breaking down in your bedroom. They’re not there in the trenches when you’re feeling less than perfect. They’re not living your story, you are.
So when was the last time you really evaluated what your expectations are for yourself? Not what your teacher, boss, mom, dad, siblings, husband, wife, kids, church, coworkers, Instagram followers, or your dog expect of you, but what YOU expect out of YOUR LIFE. Then decide how you’re going to make that a reality.
Let’s flip the narrative, shall we? Rather than worrying what other people expect of you, simply find your own thing that you know will bring you joy. Rather than posting that cute Instagram picture everyone expects, post one that’s totally silly but true to yourself. And rather than expecting today to be just another day, how can you work to make sure it’s truly incredible?
I don’t know about you, but I hope my life exceeds expectations. I hope it is so full of joy and laughter and fulfillment. All things that will come when I am true to myself and follow my own path. A path free from judgment, and you guessed it, other’s expectations.
Are you with me?