Written By Alice Maddocks
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had great expectations about what I would do with my life. The qualifications I would gain, the career path I would choose and the family I would raise. These were my priorities. I used to think I’d have all of that figured out by my mid 20’s, and, now here I am, mid 20’s with a bunch of different qualifications (which I’m still working towards), happily single and certainly a few years from having a family of my own. Over the years I’ve spent so much time inwardly scrutinising myself for being so far from my ‘great expectations’ but now I realise, it was me who set these expectations and it is me who has the power to unset them. The day I decided to let go of ‘my great expectations’ was the day I waved goodbye to a future I thought I wanted or needed, it was the day my future became endless opportunities of adventures and relationships instead of a pre-planned sat nav journey.
‘Whilst many of us are focused and distracted by our ‘great expectations’ we forget to actually live’
There’s something we forget when we strive to achieve these expectations that weigh us down for half of our lives, because whilst many of us are focused and distracted by our ‘great expectations’ we forget to actually live. It’s not just our futures that are graced with fleeting expectations either, it turns out our days are filled with them too. In fact, from the moment we wake up we decide what we expect from ourselves that day. You might even lay awake at night making a list of them in your head. Some of us feel the weight of expectations from others as well as ourselves, from our boss, our other half, our friends, family or children. But, most concerning of all, is the increasingly common expectation felt from society, to exist in a world so heavily influenced by social media and unrealistic lifestyles.
‘I’m going to live a life where my energy will not be absorbed by ideals I once thought were the key to my happiness’
And so, I’m taking a stance. I’m letting go of my ‘great expectations’, and instead I’m going to live a life where my energy will not be absorbed by ideals I once thought were the key to my happiness. Because, living with expectations isn’t living at all; it’s following a path you programmed for yourself years ago – way before you knew what you actually wanted and when your priorities were much different. When you set those expectations you were actually doing yourself an injustice, because you failed to recognise that there is a whole lot of living to be done in-between where you are right now and where you will be when you’ve met those expectations. Expectations will tie you down, and, if you live with them for long enough, they will intoxicate your life. It’s good to have goals and work hard, but I wonder if we are often replacing goals with weighty expectations. The difference between goals and expectations is that goals appreciate and recognise the hard work that it takes to achieve them and they celebrate every stepping stone to success, whereas expectations take for granted the input required and overlook the victories.
‘I’m learning to forget the grand plan for my future’
I’m learning now, to let go of the me I used to think I wanted to be, and with that I’ve found a new appreciation and acceptance for the life I already have; I’m learning that there is greater value in focusing my attention and energy on a few manageable tasks rather than trying to do everything with little input, most of all, I’m learning to forget the grand plan for my future because I want to feel alive today.
And so, I will finish with this, because I think this sums it up perfectly:
“What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.”