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Too different?

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Expectation governs every aspect of our lives. We can’t help it; every decision we make comes with the question, “what should I do?” We live our lives according to what is socially acceptable, acquiescing to established norms as if they were written in stone. But what if we didn’t? What if we turned our backs to how we should dress, act or train? What if we dared to be truly free of expectation?

It’s tempting to resign ourselves to the versions of us that others want us to be, that would fit most conveniently into their world and do the things that they deem acceptable. Deep down, we all want to be accepted, to fit perfectly into society’s jigsaw and to be the person the world tells us to be. But just because it’s prescribed to you, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Expectation can be a dead weight, preventing you from following your dreams in favor of one that society tells you is more worthy, acceptable or normal. It can threaten to usurp personalities, undermine ambition and demean achievements. Expectations are the solid brick wall cutting us off from ever becoming the best versions of ourselves. But some people have had enough.

You’re one of those people. Your life is governed by the expectations laden upon you by parents, friends, lecturers, society… you name it, they expect something of you. “I’m high achieving,” you sometimes think, “I brought this on myself, it comes with the territory.” But that’s only on your weaker days, which, thankfully, are few and far between. On your strong days, you say f**k you to the expectations others have of you; you go your own way and do what you know is right for you. You see expectations and kick them to the dust.

Expectation even threatens your workouts. You know that you’re not the fittest or the strongest or the fastest, and sometimes being aware of that hurts, but you’re doing something about it. You’re not letting the weight of expectation stop you from becoming the you you want to be. Whilst your friends go to expensive fitness classes where there is more preening in the mirror than panting with exhaustion, you grab your mat and phone and head outside. People sometimes give you funny looks as they pass you doing burpees, but you don’t care; you know that acquiescing to their expectations will only restrict you and stop you from being free. Life’s too short to only do what people expect of you.

In a parallel universe, you submit to these expectations; you does what everyone wants of you, follow the career path your parents choose, listen to the music your friends think is cool and go to those expensive (and useless) fitness classes. This version of you isn’t free. This you has eschewed their goals in favor of the goals of others; you aren’t free, and you certainly aren’t happy. Thankfully, that isn’t you. You’re aware of these expectations; you acknowledge them, gives them a perfunctory wave and see what they want from you, but you can bet your ass you don’t surrender to them.

Life is too short to remain confined for its entirety within the parameters of what others expect of us. Each day that goes by where we live by the rules of others is another day wasted and another day in which we don’t reach our full potential. We can’t change the people who surround us, but we can free ourselves from the confines of what they expect of us.

It’s all well and good saying that we won’t succumb to expectation, but the people around us still shape our relationship with it. Whilst we can’t sever ourselves from our families, it’s important to choose social circles that question rather than uphold expectations. The most valuable communities are those that expect nothing of us other than that we will try our best. These are the only communities that matter and the only ones that pass no judgement, hold up no mirror.

Expectation is comfortable; it’s familiar, safe and known. It’s boring. We keep ourselves coddled in these restricted lives and convince ourselves that we’re living life to the full, just because we’re ticking the boxes society laid out for us. Expectation and freedom can’t coexist, no matter what people try to tell you. Dare to free yourself from expectation, and live a life in which you, and you alone, make the decisions.

Amy EN