Great Expectations

Somewhere deep within our beings there lies a desire to be accepted and that desire motivates so much of what we do in and with our lives.  When we were children we tried hard to please our parents and our teachers.  We occasionally made colossally poor decisions to fit in with the cool kids: drinking, drugs, spandex, huge hair and rooster bangs, clothing with neon paint splatters.  At times we have given ourselves in relationships we weren’t ready for in order to feel what was thought to be acceptance and love.  We go to school or to a job everyday, we go through the motions of relationships, we get married and make babies, we buy a house and start planning for retirement, we take the kids to soccer, we go to recitals, we watch our children graduate and go through the same steps we took, we get older, we move to retirement communities, we sit on the rocking chair on the front porch talking about things in “our day”, and we carry hard candies in our pockets.  These things are not bad in and of themselves; they are what is expected.  But at what cost?

Why should we be expected to do everything on this list?  Why should we be expected to accomplish them within a certain timeframe?  And why should we feel pressured into doing things we’re not comfortable doing, not ready to commit to, or not interested in at this moment in our lives because it is “expected”?

“You can waste a whole lifetime
trying to be what you think is expected of you…
but you’ll never be free.” ~Chris Rea

If I followed the expectations of those around me, I would be a very different and very unhappy person.  I would be dissatisfied with the quality of my product at work because instead of doing my best everyday I would be doing just enough to get by and get a paycheck (disgusting).  I would be married to that guy who I thought I loved once but who turned out to be a schmuck; we’d probably have several beautiful children in a house that he’d expect me to keep immaculate but I would be with a man who wouldn’t be there emotionally to help me raise them, so I’d be essentially a single mother.  Great plan, right?  Or if I wasn’t married, perhaps still single or divorced, I’d be in a relationship with someone because single people must always be in a relationship with someone (especially at my age) or else be perpetually considered an old maid.  In those relationships, I would be far too intimate far too soon, emotionally and physically.  Meanwhile, during those times my status remained “single”, I would be engaging in quite casual sex.  An article in a recent Maxim magazine (a friend read to me) discussed the libido of women during the kind of economic times we’re experiencing now and the need for women to have sex with strangers in increasingly public places, including but not limited to under the desk at work, in a port-a-potty, in the back of a cab, on the subway, and in stock rooms. (Apparently the writer was she who was doing just that… rather all of that.)

At some point it becomes necessary to break free from the expectations of those around you.  Either that or give up your will, your hopes, your desires, your chutzpah and be something other than that which you were meant to be.  For some it takes a lifetime to reach that point; for some that point never comes.  For me it came when I was about 8 years old and almost every day since.

“This is your life. Are you who you wanna be?” ~Switchfoot

Decide.  Decide which expectations are worth following and which need to be ignored.  Follow your conscience.  Follow your heart.  And…

“This above all: to thine own self be true!” ~Polonius, Hamlet, Shakespeare

© Dulcinea, 2009. All rights reserved.

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