The weight of expectation

“Live no longer to the expectation of those deceived and deceiving people with whom we converse”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Parents, family, friends, social groups, teachers, managers… These are just a few of the many people to whom we give the power to influence our daily lives. We turn to them for advice, guidance, help or support whenever we need it. Many of them, such as parents, managers and social groups have certain expectations for how we should act and lead our lives. This is not necessarily a bad thing when they only want the best for us, and support our goals and dreams. The problem arises when they try to dissuade us from a plan of action because it does not fit in with their expectations. It may that they want to protect us from the risk of failure. It could be that they are jealous of our potential success. Or perhaps a determination that we should not stand out from the group. Whatever the reasoning behind it, some people will inevitably try to dissuade us from following our own paths because they would rather we stay on the one which they approve of. This is not a healthy way to lead your life. If you are simply living your life in accordance with the expectations of others, is it even your life that you are living? What about your own plans, hopes, goals, dreams and aspirations? How about what makes you happy, drives you and gives you a sense of purpose?

One example of expectation gone wrong is social media and the distortion it creates. In this day and age, young people are becoming increasingly addicted to social media. It is a wonderful creation and has the power for good, but it does have its darker side. This is the side that encourages people to take drastic measures for fear of losing out. All too often, people spend huge amounts of money on credit cards in order to buy things which they may not particularly like, want or need. Why? In order to fit in. They see the pictures on Instagram, for example, and do not want to miss out. But it goes deeper than that, with people adopting almost completely new personas in order to remain part of a social group or maintain the popularity of their social media accounts. The problem is that social media is rarely a reflection of real life. Furthermore, trends and tastes change very quickly so you will be forever adapting and changing yourself in order to fit in.

The only goals and expectations which really matter are those which you set for yourself. It is worth asking yourself, when someone tries to impose their expectations on you, why they may be doing this. In whose best interest is it for you to follow their lead? Naturally, other people have something to teach us, and it is a very good idea to get a second opinion wherever possible. Talk to those closest to you. Seek advice. Share your experiences with them. But follow your own path. Be confident. Listen to the warnings and lessons of others but do not be so quick to abandon your own goals in order to live up to their expectations.

This is your life, and it’s short, so you should live it as you want. Provided that you are not hurting, offending or taking advantage of anyone else, you should absolutely live up to your own expectations and the standards which you set for yourself. The people who truly care about you will respect you, understand and adjust their expectations in order to support you.

Rather than blindly living up to the expectations imposed on us by others, have the courage to listen to what your gut is telling you. You never know, it may actually be them who are wrong, not you.

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