Expectations are a funny thing. If you think about it, our society runs on expectations. You are expected to stand in line, ALL THE TIME. You are expected to comply with laws and social norms.
It is expected for you to not run down the street naked brandishing a banana screaming “The Doctor said I needed one!!!”
No matter how much we may want to, it’s just not expected.
Our society runs like a mostly oiled, but sort of neglected, machine. The gasoline that keeps it running are our expectations.
Expectations can be good, based on social norms. Make good grades, study for your SATs, get into college…things are statistically easier for people with a college degree.
Expectations decree that you dress appropriately for a job interview and say all the right things. Complying with these expectations can get you a job, which can get you food on your table.
In every way, expectations define the way in which we survive in modern society.
But expectations can override your life. They can overload your senses. When you’re being handed baskets of expectations from every side, every angle, every person…it will break you. Those expectations don’t even have to be opposite. They can all work well together to develop the Perfect Human for your particular Situation.
But you aren’t perfect. You’ll never be perfect.
Some people are fine with expectations. They do their best, and have no desire to rock the boat. The thought rarely occurs to them. Some people prefer to be handed their expectations and thrive in an environment where what is expected of them is spelled out. And that’s totally fine. That is evolutionary biology at work. That is Life, Surviving and Procreating and Being.
Some people buck like a wild mustang the second those ropes of expectation are wrapped around them. “Why? What does it matter?”
In the extreme, these cases cannot survive. They can’t get good grades, because they are misunderstood. They can’t get a good job, because they didn’t play the game enough to get into a good school. Or they can’t keep a job because they can’t play the game enough to keep a job.
We all have to swallow so much BULLSHIT just to survive. It’s a frustrating tragedy of every day life.
However, the majority of us walk the line. We think “This fucking sucks ass, but I’ve got to do it in order to get to the next stage, so I guess I’ll just deal with it.” And I think we are the ones who have the hardest time. That line is thin, and dangerous. You comply, because it will get you somewhere. Because complying means accomplishing the goals you set for yourself. But you always keep your own True Self in mind. To be honest, your own True Self SCREAMS AT YOU. “This is injustice. This isn’t fair. That guy should be punched in the face.” But you calm it. You tame it. You compromise just enough to make it, but you stay true.
The real trouble, is that we are so ingrained, in our deepest evolutionary biology, to adhere to certain societal expectations in order to ensure our own survival, that when we get into that place of moderate success where everyone we meet is handing us another batch of expectations…our instinct is to comply. “This is the life I’ve chosen, these are the expectations I am being handed for this life. My choice, I must comply.”
It’s not even robotic…it’s animal instinct.
And…sometimes…we spend so long trying to match all these expectations that we break ourselves in half.
And it’s so insidious. So subtle that we don’t even see it happening. And when the real break happens we think we’ve gone insane. “What’s wrong with me? Things are on track, I’m doing well. Why am I so depressed? Why am I so anxious all the time?”
When you’re handed piles and piles of expectations from every angle, when you take those upon yourself and try to comply because your instincts are screaming that THIS IS SURVIVAL NOW, and your other half is screaming I CAN’T MAKE THEM ALL HAPPY.
Then the brain breaks. The soul shrivels. And despair sets in.
Oh, despair. Do animals feel despair? Are we, alone, cursed with the ability to have higher functioning brains that are also running on animal instinct? Our instincts tell us to comply with the Pack, while our higher functioning brains grieve for the great sacrifices we must make to survive.
Maybe it is just us. But, the good news, is that our higher functioning brains have also blessed us with things like love.
Now, I personally, think love is a dumb word. It’s like trying to take a Hydrogen Bomb and name it Fluffy. Love is undefinable and can’t be contained. It’s deeply personal and can’t be described in any way that actually makes sense.
However, for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to explain the many ways in which love can save you.
First off, some of us, some lucky few, have people in our lives with no expectations. They have love, and they have hope. But those two things are quite different from expectations.
Spend a little time with someone who just cares for you, and hopes the best for you, but never expects you to do or be anything but what you are…and that True Self you thought was lost will find you again.
It feels, on the inside, just like putting Aloe Vera on a 2nd degree sunburn. Soothing, comforting…healing.
However, not everyone has that. In the case that you don’t, take this advice:
Tell everyone to fuck off for a week. A full 7 days. Get away. I’M FUCKING SEROUS, GET AWAY. If you don’t have much money, then unplug your phone and tell them you’re out of town. If you have the money, get out of town. Even if you’re just at the Holiday Inn a couple hours away.
Remove yourself from the expectations. Give yourself enough time to stop thinking about those expectations and start imagining what you really wish your life was. What do you want? What you wanted 5, 10, 15 years ago may have changed drastically, but you were so buried in expectations and compromises that you stopped listening to what was inside. Sometimes your heart cries out for years, and you miss it because you’re too busy answering e-mails and trying not to punch your boss in the face.
So get away. Do whatever you have to do. Go sit on a rock and listen to crickets. Go sit in a hotel hot tub and people watch. Binge watch every season of Doctor Who there ever was. Whatever it takes to get away from those mountains of expectations and really LISTEN to what you REALLY want your life to be.
Why? Because there can be no greater love in the world than that you can have for yourself. You live with yourself EVERY DAY. It’s a burden, sometimes, to look out of those eyeballs and think “Why did I say that?” or “Why didn’t I handle that better?” or any other number of things. No one will ever know you as well as you know yourself, and you won’t know real peace until you really love every part of yourself. Yes, even the giant selfish asshole who does dick things.
It’s ok. We’ve all got one.
The thing is, I really think it’s possible to comply just enough to achieve the life of your dreams without compromising your sanity and happiness along the way. And if your dreams change along the way, that’s fine. Nobody ever said you aren’t allowed to start over. It’s frowned upon for someone older to suddenly change their life, but those expectations can just go fuck themselves.
I’ll stand in line for a donut, but my life is my life, and I’ll be proud of the choices that make me happy. FUCK YOU AND YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
I know me better than you. And that’s all I need to know.
That being said, running down the street naked with a banana screaming “The Doctor said I needed one!” sounds pretty fucking awesome sometimes. Not because I want to be naked in public, but because shocking the ever loving shit out of people while hearing random Doctor Who fans screaming encouragement would be pretty damn cool.