Breaking Free From Expectations.
We are born into a world filled with expectations. The definition of an expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.” Our parents push their expectations onto us and they have had their parents’ expectations engraved into them, and if we don’t meet those expectations, we become a disappointment or a failure or a loose cannon or expelled from the family.
But I am here today to tell you all that expectations have no place in a happy and successful life, be it expectations others have of us or those we have of others. How can we really know our true selves if we have had a lifetime of being told what others expect of us, and to be a successful member of society we must adhere to these. A simple example could be boys wear blue and succeed in sports, Girls wear pink and make great home makers. An old reference but still very relevant. Woman have been shamed throughout history for breaking expectations forced upon them and seeking careers. Men can be considered failures or weak if they were to artistic or emotional. But if these amazing people didn’t break free from expectations society would never evolve, we wouldn’t have amazing artists and writers, powerful women who bring amazing ideas to the world of business and politics. Comedians, actors, philanthropists, musicians the list is endless of people who broke free from the expectations of their parents and society to follow their true self and passions to become who they were meant to be.
When I was a child my parents had every milestone in my life pre planned through the path of my older brother who just so happened to enjoy the stereotypical masculine roll, this was great for him as he enjoyed those roles they gave him purpose and happiness. But we are all unique no one is the same not even our closest blood relatives, yes many of us share similarities but no two humans are the same. As a child I was expected to be tough, play rugby and love motorbikes and guns. But that couldn’t have been further from who I was born to be, I was naturally drawn to creativity and imagination I loved music and art, writing and drama, dressing up and creating outfits with my mothers clothes and using all the different pieces to express myself, but because I failed to meet those expectations I was punished and shamed, forced into a pre imagined mould that didn’t fit me in any way. It was like my parents where shoving the square piece into the triangle hole in one of those wooden shape learning games. And so I like many others was forced to suppress my true self further and further as the years went by and the expectations kept coming from parents, friends, employers and society. Eventually through this you start to lose the purest form of yourself, jumbled in there with the worlds expectations of me is who I have spent my entire adult life trying to pull out so I can feel whole again and find what it is in life I want to do what I am meant to do what is my purpose in this world.
By no means do I blame those around me for forcing their expectations on me, it is just how society has taught us to behave. However now that we know this information on how we may feel so lost or unfulfilled in our lives we can begin to peel back those layers of ourselves that don’t serve us any good. The parts that have grown into our personality unwillingly through expectations. So how do we begin to find the true self? Lets begin by breaking it into a few simple steps, the steps may be simple but this isn’t easy and will take some time to refine and perfect but stick with it and your purest self will shine through.
Grab a large blank page and in the centre write “me” in a big bubble. Now begin to draw a mind map with lines leading out from the original bubble, writing down what you think describes you, just one or two words per line drawn. Ask yourself these questions, what brings me peace? What makes me happy? What do I enjoy? What am I good at? What are my best qualities? What did I do/enjoy a lot as a child?
Be as honest as you can and keep it simple, don’t over think it and try not to be modest or embarrassed, this is your personal writing so let it flow however you like. It can be as simple as “sunshine”, “my children”, “I am determined” or you can add pictures or drawings small sentences, just make it your own. Write as much as you feel in that moment then take a step back.
Now that you have created your mind map, you can begin to elaborate on what you have written using a separate sheet of paper describe what it is about these things that bring you joy, what makes you good at them. Do you enjoy sunny days because you can get out more or can relax more etc.. by asking these questions we begin to build a bigger picture of what we need more of in life and what we are good at. What is it in life that feeds our “soul”.
Now that you have your mind map and extra information you can begin to implement these things more into your daily life. Just start with one thing something small that brings you joy and don’t forget to appreciate and be in the moment with this thing. After maybe a week or two you can add another and so on. Bringing more joy and replacing mindless habits that do not bring us true joy, you should begin to fall into a much better daily life everyday lived doing small things that make us happy.
Something I have done with my list in the past when I have been struggling with a sense of no purpose or career frustration is try and piece the things that I am good at and the things that I enjoy into different career options or life changes. I use this list of my best qualities to try and place myself in the world. For me I love to be creative, I enjoy helping others any way I can, and I love to connect with other people. This along with many other things within mind maps and revised mind maps has led me to begin on this journey writing my blog. Here I get share what helps me with others, I get to create the website and photograph the beauty of life and I can connect with people. Try not to restrict yourself with doubts or circumstances just let your creativity flow freely, believe me there is a job and place for everyone and no matter your age you can reinvent yourself again and again. Just have a google for the strangest jobs (there is literally endless careers in things you never even knew existed) or google people who succeeded later in life or succeed from poor backgrounds, trust me opportunity is out there if you are just willing to give it a chance.
Use your mind map as often as you like, if your feeling off or low, maybe overwhelmed take out your mind map and reflect on what has been missing. Have you been mindlessly wasting your free time not doing things that bring you joy, or even over working yourself to the point where free time to enjoy things is nonexistent. Set a time again in the next day or two to begin to reintroduce your positive things into your life again one at a time even for just 10 mins in the evening pick something small to start.
This is not an overnight change your life idea, as I said the steps may seem simple but putting them into practice takes time and don’t be afraid to revise your mind maps again and again until you get it right. Remember that you are worthy of love and happiness, and Rome was not built in a day give it time, we achieve so much by pacing ourselves and making small changes every day rather than running full steam and crashing before we even take off. If you stumble remember that tomorrow is a new day, pick yourself up and try again.
I believe in you.
Love Maddison x