Expectations Shmexpectations

Dorien Israel

Once upon a time (not that long of a time), I lived life on a timeline. I expected to settle down young, start a family by 28 with a partner that would love music, exciting foods, and travel just as much as me. I anticipated entering my 30’s established and “together” while having a slew of societal-driven accomplishments under my belt.

In less than a month, I turn 30. These deadlines and expectations I longed for have been served to me on a silver platter, taken away, and churned out a more humble me with so many lessons learned.

This time a year ago, I lived in a quiet suburban neighborhood in a cute house with a girlfriend (whom bought the house – we both paid the mortgage), two dogs, and two new cars.  Even though our relationship was dormant and unfulfilling, we still clung to the expectations of starting a family and having some kind of commitment ceremony (ok, wedding, if you wanna call it that). This was the “dream life” I wanted – what I was taught to want but, it felt wrong. Why did my inner voice constantly tell me there was more to life than being stifled in a world that didn’t serve my needs anymore?

The expectations I held so close, protected by my ego and fear, clouded my path and made it harder to let go and start again.

But I did.

Whew, if we could lose these presumptions of how our life should be, we would drift more freely through life’s ebb and flow with less ego and more bravery.

Life happens and the expectations we so desperately grasp to (and sometimes project onto the people we love) are nothing but guidelines, shaped by your past, society, and ego that will only set you up for disappointment and failure.

We all get stuck into certain ways of thinking about how things should be and play out (usually in our favor, right?).  Hell, we’re programmed at 18 years old to consciously “know what you want to be” and peruse college with the weight of expectations from parents, professors, and our growing student loans. After college, we’re assumed to hunker down to a job, buy a house, get married, have babies, go to the Outer Banks during the summer, send Holiday cards … the list goes on and on.

There’s nothing wrong with all of these experiences (in fact, the kid and house sound lovely … at some point) – few people are born to solely fill these roles. Some are not – whether it’s doing life “out of order”, embracing those unplanned surprises, or listening to that inner voice that urges a change – even one that might eradicate everything you thought.

For these experienced souls, acknowledging a path of the unknown, leading to the inevitable fork in the road is frightening and can naturally sever relationships and the life you once thought you controlled. Some of us fight it, wanting to hold our perfect life close to safety but these festering realizations (pointing you towards that other path) will only hide in dark corners, laying dormant, waiting to sprout. And those moments where they unearth, are typically moments of “holy shit”.

Finally, after letting these expectations go, with my path being so unclear, I cannot explain the peace within … and growing.

I broke a cycle that drained me, freed myself from my old self, and am now ready for the waves of change and growth that’ll crash upon my shore.


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3 thoughts on “Expectations Shmexpectations

  1. Barb Karcher says:

    “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask.” “Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.” Jim Morrison

  2. Observer says:

    Thank you for this. I only wish I could be so brave.

    What about when breaking those roles will detrimentally hurt those you love the most? For me, I can’t choose this path on the hopes of a more fulfilling life, knowing that it would destroy them.

    But thank you for allowing me to glimpse into the possibility. It feels good to just watch from the sidelines sometimes.

    • grub like a girl says:

      Thanks for sharing, Observer.

      Here’s how I feel about it …
      Holding yourself back from happiness will only prolong hiding in those dark corners. The more you realize that other path, the more pain and resentment you’ll carry, eventually projecting onto the loved ones you’ve tried to prevent hurting from the get-go.

      That being said, hurting others for the sake of your own growth might be a terrifying thought, filled with intense guilt.

      However, you’re already ahead by realizing there’s another path for you in this lifetime. It’s up to you, whether to move forward and voyage on your new direction (when it feels right) or stay in safety – what you know doesn’t serve you.

      Your inner voice is there, and that in itself is a beautiful thing.

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