I’ve been thinking a lot about expectations lately. Specifically, about the expectations placed on someone by the people who love them.
What’s brought on this reflection? I’m back in school and people are voicing their opinions. Most are happy for me challenging myself and respect the winding paths of life that brought me here. They respect the years of not attending college as much as they applaud my decision to go.
But some do not respect the fact that my life is mine to make. We all know the kind: they always have something to say and they always have to be right. They are just a little too quick to judge another’s life choices.
People who have gone far in their lives have, in my view, either had the world handed to them or overcome the obstacles by themselves. Both groups have expectations of others that is informed by their life experience.
If you’ve had the world handed to you, it’s hard to spot the obstacles. It wasn’t that hard for you. To you, they were molehills; to others they are mountains.
If you’ve overcome the obstacles by hard work on your own, it’s easy to compare yourself to others. You did it, so can they. But everyone does not have the same mountain to climb.
My parents are masters of the art of being supportive without swerving off into either smothering or enabling. “You want to work as a CNA and be a writer? Be the best CNA and writer you can be. You want to share the house so you can help support your brother and have the financial freedom to do what you want? Share the household expenses.” They have consistently respected my unique brand of adulthood and let me have my independence and make my mistakes. “If you’re gonna be stupid, you’ve gotta be tough” was a constant refrain of my childhood. “Grace covers many mistakes” was another.
Mom and Dad always wanted me to know that I could make my own mistakes and that I could tell them anything. It is still true today.
In some respects, having such awesome parents makes it difficult to know how to handle the know-it-alls and the busybodies of life.
I was listening to music today and “Brave” by Sara Bareilles came on. I love this artist and this song…but I had to wonder: what would I say if I just let the words fall out? Probably something I shouldn’t, followed by something I don’t really mean.
There’s being honest and then there’s being unquiet. There’s being brave and there’s burning bridges.
Most people whose expectations you are under do not mean anything nasty by it. They just want what’s best for you. They just don’t always realize that what’s best for you is not what they think is best for you.
So yes, people have expectations of me. That’s great: it means they see potential. Some know how to encourage and some meddle.
That’s okay: I’m still learning how and when to say “Thank you” and “Thank you but back off”.
“Is this worth the possible fight?” I’ll ask myself. Then try to decide how sensitively implement the “yes” or “no”. It’s hard because my naturally tendency is to swallow, swallow, swallow and SPEW.
Call it an INFP thing or a Hannah thing. But that’s a story for another day.