Expectation—a word hanging in the air like stale food. People’s expectations weigh a ton when thrust upon your shoulders. They get so heavy your legs buckle under the pressure. Everything you do contrary to what is expected is criticized and mocked—whether good or bad.
When people expect bad from you and you do something good, it is still bad. You don’t score points with them when you walk contrary to their expectations. No matter what good you do in your efforts to negate the low expectations regarding you, it will always be attributed to bad.
When people expect good from you, your good only counts if it adheres to their standard. Anything less than that is a disappointment, a waste. You could have done better if you did it the way they told you to. You could have done more if you worked harder.
Where do these expectations come from?
Some of them come from birth. Family expects you to carry on a legacy or to create one in their name. Others form their expectations on characteristics and talents you possess. Even history births expectation. Your parents were no good, so you won’t be either. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. On the other hand, if your parents were respected, you are expected to do great things–according to the accepted definition of greatness.
People are more mindful of you than you realize. They study your actions—and your inactions. They provoke you, testing you to see what you’re going to do. They form conclusions based on these assessments and evaluations, then build your mold. And if you’re not careful you’ll waste a big chunk of your life trying to fit it.
But you must understand: Even the most well-meaning people can get it wrong.
No man knows the perfect will of God for your life. No man knows your destiny. That is something you must seek for yourself.
The only expectations that matter are the ones you have for yourself. So it matters whose looking-glass you are peering through. When you smile in the mirror feeling good about yourself, is it because you fulfilled your dreams or the dreams of somebody else? Or when you’re tossing and turning in the middle of the night lamenting your failure, who did you let down?
You can never be everything anyone wants you to be. You can, however, be all you were meant to be. But weighed down by the chains of everybody else’s expectations, can you ever believe that’s enough?
It takes courage to quiet all the voices trying to “help” you succeed or the naysayers who believe you’re destined for failure. It takes courage to really see yourself and listen to your own voice. You do have one, you know. And it matters.
Evaluate your life. What do YOU expect from yourself? If someone expects you to reach for the stars and you’re satisfied with the tops of the trees, reach for the trees. If someone has pictured you in a fancy sports car and your dream car is a Subaru, then ride off into the sunset in your Subaru. If you’re expected to be a doctor, but writing drives you, be brave enough to write.
Success is not a one-size-fit-all garment. It has to be tailored to fit. Trying to wear someone else’s idea of success will chafe you; you won’t ever be comfortable in it.
If you’re tired and ready to break the chains, I know a God who specializes in freeing caged birds. But do you have the courage to see yourself as you really are? If the answer is yes, put one foot forward, then the other, and walk into your destiny.
© D.L. Lunsford
3 thoughts on “The Weight of People’s Expectations”
I really like how you included reality, but still somehow kept your post poetic, and very beautiful.
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