Great Expectations

Everyone expects something of you. Your parents, your friends, your significant other, your coworkers – society in general.

 Your parents expect (and hope) that you’ll be happy and successful. Your friends expect you to be a good friend; to be there when they need you. Your significant other expects you to spend time with them and be a loving, supportive partner. Your coworkers expect you to do your job and always be willing to help. Society expects you to be a productive force in the world.

 You know, standard stuff.

 It’s really odd, though, how people’s expectations of you can be very different. And how you have to sort of figure out if their expectations of you are really your expectations, or if you’ve just let them become your expectations because you care more about making someone else happy than you do about making yourself happy.

 Once upon a time in another life (as you’re probably aware if you’ve read some of my other blogs) I almost got married. And everyone I knew was so happy for me, and so thrilled with the relationship and the happy little plan to get married after graduation and move to wherever he ended up going to graduate school. My life was mapped out. There was a wedding binder. A really f*cking huge wedding binder.

 There was really only one person in my life who seemed somewhat disappointed that I’d fit myself into a neat little roll in society. Who expected “more” from me, when in general I was meeting the expectations of everyone else. And that bugged me. It bugged me a lot. And I tried to justify myself, even though there was no need to do so. I continued to try to justify myself (if only in my head) even after it was pointed out to me that I wasn’t writing anymore, and I used to write all the time.

 And then suddenly I felt like Allie in The Notebook when Noah asks her if she still paints now that she’s engaged to some absurdly good-looking man, and she says that she doesn’t, and then it’s the whole sad symbolic moment and it’s like “Oh how tragic, her creative soul is dead.”

 And then I felt seriously pathetic for thinking of that. But I digress.

 The point is that I was meeting (and exceeding) everyone’s expectations. Except this one damn kid. And I don’t think it would have bothered me if he’d been wrong – if I really was happy to just float away and be a wife and have the picket fence and the kids and the house.

 But I wanted more than that – I’d just forgotten. And then the whole wedding thing didn’t happen, and then I was writing again, and then I started to remember all of the things I had wanted to do that, for two years of my life, took a back seat. And then I hated the fact that he’d been right all along, but at the same time I felt like I owed him a little bit. Because we all have expectations of the people in our lives, and he expected more from me, in an off-beat kind of way, than everyone else did. And it’s not as though anyone let me down. They saw me happy, and that’s what they wanted for me, the same way I want happiness for them. It’s just that I was the wrong kind of happy, and didn’t even realize it. 

The point is that everyone has expectations of you – the important thing is not to settle just because you’ve met them. Because meeting the expectations of everyone else doesn’t always mean meeting your expectations of yourself. 

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