Thursday, November 10, 2011

Not What I Expected (About Expectations)

I set out being really excited to put down some thoughts about social expectations for this week’s post, but it has proven more difficult than I had anticipated.  I even had a bit of fun doing some research and asking a gazillion questions to friends, family, coworkers and innocent civilians about the expectations surrounding relationships (a big thank you to all of you who responded.  Love you all!)  I originally thought this would be an easy topic because there are so many expectations surrounding every aspect of life:  Education, love, career choices and pursuits, family life, belief systems, holidays (ugh), personal hygiene….

I could go on about each of these and how I think we are often driven by these expectations (and understandably so, in many cases).  I have experienced the restraints and pressures of expectations in all of these categories and I know most people have and do.  But as I tried to write about them I kept feeling a gnawing dissatisfaction about something.  It would be so easy to condemn all social expectations and “norms” and call anyone who conforms to them brainwashed people-pleasers! ...Or would it?  Personally, I have come to be extremely cautious of any “group” or “organization” (religion, club, social party…) because they create a group mentality which distracts from listening to and honoring my own soul-voice.  But that is not to say they don’t serve a useful purpose…and I’m still not sure how I feel about that last line, but whatever.

Really, social expectations don’t matter one crumby bit.  They are only expectations.  We may break hearts and let people down by not following them, but that is just a byproduct of honoring our hearts, of listening to our own soul-voice.  Yet this doesn’t mean we always have to go against social expectations either.  What matters here is that we are doing what is right for us.  It means allowing ourselves to be selfish if we feel we cannot participate in the holidays as might be expected by our families.  It means NOT moving in with the one that you love because it is what is right for your relationship, even though it might not make any sense to the world.  It means quitting a stable and career-centered job with great benefits and the possibility for advancement because it doesn’t quite fit with your heart and makes you want to slam your face against a brick wall every time you think about it (this is entirely hypothetical I promise).  But it could also mean getting married (social expectation), showering a few times a week (social expectation), going home for Christmas (social expectation) and perusing a stable, well-paying job (social expectation).  The beautiful thing about this journey of life is that it is going to look different for everyone.

I feel like I’m always saying the same things:  Follow your heart!  Honor your own truth!  Be who you are!  Do what is right for you!  Listen to your soul-voice!  Perhaps this is the song I’m singing right now because it is the one I need to hear the most.  But I’ll keep singing anyway.  (Insert operatic vibrato-drenched voice here).  In my experience, the joy and beauty that come from honoring my truth (whatever that is) is worth any sacrifice.

Forever and ever, AMEN!


  1. amen.

    It's really funny because since I posted on sunday, I've been thinking more about this topic, and reading what others have to say on it and my brain is doing the same things as yours. I'm not sure what my opinions are. I still feel like I'm being held and holding myself to a lot of expectations generated by society...but I wonder which ones are okay for me to keep around, if any.

    I like the idea of following your heart. And I think it's cool that people can do their own thing (like couples not even moving in together) even when social expectations are so prevalent and kind of pressureful in some regards.

    I'm not sure what to make of your last line (before the amen part). Maybe I'm just scared of honoring my own truth all the way down to the beating bloody heart...I'm never sure what sacrifices I'm willing to make. I love the idea of taking risks, but it scares the hell outta me.
    I want that beauty.

  2. Pressureful??? Uh....:)

    And you hit it right on the nose. Honoring your own truth is risky. We can't ever really know what's going to happen. BUT (and this is a big but), the beating bloody heart is where the good stuff is! Notice, though, that the first part of that sencence is "in my experience." I can't speak for anyone else's journies. All I know is that as I've been willing to sacrifice anything (and I really mean ANYTHING and EVERYTHING), the universe (god, higher power, spirit, lordisa...whatever you want to call it) has poured out so much beauty and love that it's overwhelming ('s kinda freaky).

    But yes, there is a huge risk. Living in the unknown is risky and, well, unknown.

  3. uh...uhhuh. pressureful. foreignity. confliction. mayhaps.

    of course you can only speak for yourself just as I can only speak for myself, but I do think that your line struck a chord with my soul--probably because every little tiny thing once you get smaller than atoms and all that is made of music...--and I recognized that there's a lot of truth to the idea of beauty coming from listening to your heart, living your own truth (even as it changes).

    I think I"ve been taught by society to view goals and dreams as something I have to decide now and stick with until it's been complete. I'm starting to realize that I don't need to do that--I really can let myself change and become something different; I can value things other than what I think I "should" value simply because I once gave it special significance.


  4. Everything changes....except for one thing: everything changes. :)

    And yes, everything IS made of music. And love. And maybe raspberries. But they're all the same thing anyway.