Let's talk about expectations. The ones we put on ourselves. The ones others put on us. And how they differ from one another.
I grew up in a very small community and went to the school there. Envision a high school movie that features a character who "has it all": Pretty, Student Senate President, Head Cheerleader, Community Volunteer, Homecoming Queen, Dates the Quarterback of the Football Team, Etc. That was me. Typical "popular" girl. So much a stereotype that I cringe thinking back, but I was simply along for the ride.
Because it was such a small school and because I was so involved, people knew who I was. They admired me. They looked up to me. A responsibility I took very seriously and was humbled by on so many different occasions.
They also had very high expectations for me. I was going to do "big things" in their eyes. I remember in one of my classes someone wrote, "If anyone from this school will be a success, it will be Augusta." That's a lot of weight to put on an 18-year-old's shoulders.
I had teachers trying to talk me into fancy colleges, my peers thought I'd be off to New York City the day after graduation, and my family thought I'd be some powerful so-and-so somewhere outside of Iowa. That was success in many of their eyes. Flying far away from where you came from and never looking back. Very poetic. Very stereotypical high school thinking. Very overwhelming for a person that didn't know how to, nor really wanted to, wander too far away from what she loved most - her "home" and everything that entailed.
I probably didn't do any of the things that people back then, or since then, thought I would do. And I don't really care anymore. At one time I did. And that was wasted time. The expectations that were and continue to be set for me don't always necessarily match what I expect from myself. And that's OK.
I've spent many, many, many hours of my life thinking about what "success" means to me, what I should be proud of, what I've learned from, who I am at my core. I've let the expectations that others laid on me throughout my life tumble around in the background. I still recognize them, but they don't drive me like perhaps they once did.
So what if people think you've "failed" because they don't think you've met the expectations they set for you without your consent? That's not fair to anyone.
I am no holy exception to the expectation rule, I confess that I set unrealistic expectations for others. I've played the same game I'm blaming others for. I've created goals for people in my head that I have no business even pondering about. I've been let down or felt sorry for others when their life took a direction I never imagined for them. But I'm trying to change that. I try to remember how having expectations rained down on you when you forgot your umbrella to protect yourself feels. Not good.
The expectations I hold myself to are simple. Far less grandiose and complex than the ones (set by others) I've let loom over me for far too long.
I strive to be a great wife; a good daughter, sister, family member and friend; a compassionate person who allows for grace, even when grace is hard to give; someone who is generous to those in need; a comforting presence in time of sorrow; a source of strength in difficult situations; and someone who appreciates where they came from and everything they have. My overarching expectation for myself is to be a good human being. And if I can accomplish that, then I consider myself to be truly successful.
Let's just all wish each other well. How does that sound? I'll live my life, you live yours, and I hope they're both happy ones. Let's leave our expectations for others at the door and watch what happens. I think we'll like what we see.