This topic needed to be discussed!!! With so much going on in our world today, I believe that dealing with expectations and the impact it has on our lives would ultimately help us maintain a better sense of self.
I think it is hard enough trying to live up to the expectation we have of ourselves but how do we deal with the expectations that others have of us which can be both motivating and yet suffocating.
I strongly believe that expectations plays its own role on the decisions that we make and I find that if you don’t manage those expectations (not just the ones that you have for yourself but also the ones that your family, friends and the wider society have for you) you could find yourself in an internal battle that quite frankly seems endless.
Don’t get me wrong, expectations can be good for us because it can help to motivate and inspire us do better. However, there are some expectations that we must be real about. You know, the ones that are just plain unrealistic to the point where it starts to affect our mental health, our happiness and ultimately our decisions. For example, I remember when I was still at college and I had chosen Maths, Physics and Computer science because my family had the expectation of me studying engineering at University.
My family’s expectations came from the right place, being of African descent, there has always been a strong sense of responsibility when it came to education and it was just expected that I would either study to be a doctor, lawyer or engineer. As I showed some aptitude with science and maths, there was this expectation that engineering would be my chosen field.
So, I started college with that mindset however when I got into my 2nd year, I started to realise I didn’t enjoy what I was doing, it no longer made sense. The equations and formulas just didn’t click for me anymore however because of the expectation from my family, I found it very difficult to speak to anyone about it thinking that I would have let not just my family down, but also myself. Let’s just say when I got my results, it was a hot mess, lol, but I soldiered through and here I am today.
Amongst other things, I would have appreciated if some had told me back then the two main things, I now find so helpful when I am dealing with expectations which are:
1. Speak to someone
Whether it was to a family member or friend, I realised that I never actually spoke to someone about what I was going through. Speaking to my parents about their expectation would have helped me quantify exactly what it is they were expecting so that I could manage those expectations along the way. Similarly, speaking to a friend, someone not connected to the situation would have helped me speak freely about my thoughts and feelings which would have helped me get perspective at the time.
At different stages, I had the opportunity to reflect on what was going on and the impact it had on my expectation of a situation however I didn’t take the time to do this. I just ploughed on thinking that this misstep or fall would eventually align itself to the goal. I wish someone had told me the importance of reflecting because I find that now helps me to manage the pressures (good and bad) that comes from expectations because things happen and just like that, you may have to change what you can expect from a situation because of things that may be outside your control. So, guys take the time to reflect, revisit your expectations, speak to someone to get perspective so you can manage the impact of any changes around you that directly or indirectly affects your expectations.
I hope this helps everyone that is feeling that pressure and if you ever want to chat, drop me a line.
Make sure to also check out my video on my YouTube Channel on this topic where I talk a bit more about what it means for me to have that kind of love / hate relationship with the “expectations” that others have for me and what I do to try to stay in control .