Expectation. Ugh. What a word. It doesn’t exactly feel negative, but it certainly isn’t positive either.
I have never had super high expectations of myself. Some will see that as lazy and some as progressive. Truthfully I never really considered it. There were very few things I wanted to be best at, really just two: horseback riding (which I worked hard at, but being the best is expensive) and being an animal mom (which I believe I do pretty darn well at). I’ve always tried my hardest with things I care about, but I’m easily swayed towards laziness when I don’t really give a flying flip. I never really had a career goal, an expectation of achieving some specific title. Mostly I just wanted to do things I truly enjoyed and avoid things that I faked smiles through. No one ever pinned me down as just one thing and I never really identified myself one way or another. Who am I if you ask someone? I like to eat, love animals and have a decent sense of humor. Not exactly life-defining characteristics. This would terrify some. I have learned to love it.
The other side of expectations, those people have of you, is a horse of a different color. Other’s expectations can weigh so heavily on some. Of course they have affected me. It’s impossible to avoid. But I have had an easier time living free of expectation than many. My family encouraged out-of-the-box thinking. They cheered (while possibly secretly worrying) when I made decisions that didn’t seem to make tons of sense. They always expected that I be a good person, but didn’t pressure me to be or do any one thing.
I have seen first hand the impact that high expectations can have on others. It can push them to amazing heights; make them believe they are capable of more. But it can also destroy confidence and damage imagination. Expectations can put you in a box and keep you there. When someone expects one thing of you, sees you one way, and you do the opposite, dealing with the fallout can be too much to handle.
Three years ago Ryan and I moved FAR away; away from family, friends and jobs, away from a way of living that was starting to chafe at us. We started a new life and created our own small family, free from any outside influence. Now that we are living in Wisconsin again, expectation and influence can’t help but be close behind. It was easy to avoid in Seattle. There is understanding when you can’t make it back for every event or holiday. When you hang up your golf clubs for two years because you sort of lose interest, no one cares. Growing your hair out and becoming an avid outdoorsman, no surprise there.
Ryan and I felt that so fully in Seattle. We weren’t afraid to throw out the old image of ourselves and start over; this time crafting life based on what we truly enjoyed. The freedom allowed for so much growth, so much understanding. We changed drastically.
Those who have always known you often have you painted in their minds one way, as I too have many people imagined a certain way in my head. It’s difficult to update that image, to add color to the painting where you used to see black and white.
I’ve learned it’s impossible to talk someone into changing their image of you. The only thing to do is keep living your best life and hope that the painting slowly begins to reflect who you truly are.