All of us have had expectations of others, and we’ve had others place expectations on us. I remember that when I was younger, I was fascinated with doctors. I would ask my doctors a lot of questions. I thought for some time that I would one day become an MD. After working at a nursing home one summer, and after not doing as well in college as I’d hoped, I came to the sad reality that becoming a doctor wasn’t something I had the stomach to do. My less than stellar grades were a part of it, but I always felt helpless as people got very ill or passed away. I would grieve the deaths of my nursing home patients as if they were family members, so I knew it would be too much for me to continue in that field.
When I broke the news to my family, they did not take it very well at first. The disappointment was palpable, and with no clear Plan B, I was uncertain of what the future held for me. I tried to find other ways to earn approval, since what they had hoped for would not become a reality. I tried to be the model daughter and granddaughter. I tried to be patient, respectful and responsible. The pressure started affecting me, and I could feel the weight on my shoulders.
This heavy weight of expectations spilled over into my romantic relationships, where certain criteria was expected to be displayed by my suitors. I cried for a very long time after letting go of someone who meant everything to me.
Do you realize the significance of the role that expectations plays in our lives? Our decision-making process typically includes, “What would my children think?” or “Would Mommy approve?” or “Would my boys laugh at me if I did this?” There are moments when we feel the desire to get away from the litany of expectations, spoken or unspoken. Things like, “We value education here. Everyone MUST have at least a Bachelor’s degree in this house.” Or, “No babies before a wedding.” Or, “Don’t you know what our name means in this family and in this community?” Those who don’t fit in are left floundering and struggling. Many times, the misfits are so uncomfortable that eventually they leave the nest to start their own lives, separated from people whom they’ve loved but who now struggle to love them in return.
Many have gone to tremendous measures to “keep the peace” or to preserve the family name, or to minimize ridicule from friends, even when their hearts were beating to a different drum. Joining in on a bullying session with friends so they don’t turn on you. Or, agreeing to an abortion because of the family rule: no children without a wedding ring. Or, hiding secret passions or pursuits that you know your crowd wouldn’t understand.
Well…..It’s been years since I had to break the news to my family that I wouldn’t become a doctor, and I believe that was the best decision I had ever made. I had the ability to pursue whatever career path I wanted, but I was not passionate enough about medicine to continue. Now, all these years later, I’ve found my voice. My keyboard has been my passion outlet, whether it’s through blogging, posting on social media, editing books, writing books, or encouraging a friend. My keyboard has helped me meet people I would not have met otherwise, and has open doors for me. My passionate writings and posts have inspired many people around the world. I’ve received inbox messages and phone calls that testify to this.
So here’s my advice: Don’t allow anyone to take away your voice because of expectations. Our lives aren’t meant to be lived in cookie-cutter mode. We are meant to live like snowflakes, as no two flakes are alike. We are uniquely created to live out our purpose. And, if you are unsure of your purpose or where to begin that journey, I wrote a short book that can help you. Visit HERE to order your copy. Then get a pen and a notepad, settle down, and begin the journey.
It’s never too early or too late to shrug off the expectations of others and pursue who you were created to be.
See you “there!”