I’ve spent my life carrying the weight of other’s expectations. Jumping through hoops, finding the little things that make them happy, pivoting/cancelling my plans to accommodate their needs. Always reading the room to make sure everyone was happy and had what they needed to be comfortable. No one returned the favor. I would walk on egg shells until I made sure no one was mad at me and that they saw the effort to make them happy. What I thought would endear me to people only led to expectations and when I couldn’t keep up with them, they shut me out and expressed their disappointment in me. They were also the last people I could count on when I needed them.
The more I saw myself behaving this way in multiple arenas (friends/family/work/meeting new people etc.), the more I realized that this pattern flat out sucks. It hurts me and it depletes everything I am. I could bleed for these people and they wouldn’t give a shit let alone lift a finger to help if I needed them. Before I go further, I want to caveat that there were 10000% people who were there for me and who helped me—I’m not trying to martyr myself. But the people I hoped to be there for me often were not the ones I could rely on. Which emphasizes the point about my own expectations of others. Having expectations of others whether it is a certain behavior, any kind of reciprocity, or any kind of reaction is a set up for failure. All we have control over is ourselves and in those situations, it’s vital to recognize when things simply won’t change.
Then there are the people who feel so miserable within themselves that they can’t bear to see someone happy. They are threatened by other people’s success and operate from a place feeling like other people’s success means less for them. And there are still others who are simply jealous because they don’t have that vision. Honestly, whether we know it or not, we’ve all been this person at some point whether it was toward someone else or toward ourselves. We know what it feels like and we know what it feels like to be on the receiving end as well. I read a quote the other day that said, “Someone is out there holding their breath waiting for you to fail. Make sure they suffocate.” Yes, I know it’s a bit dark, but the point still hits: people who want to see you fail don’t belong in your life. Put on a show and live up to your own expectations.
I would rather live up to my own expectations of myself rather than try to make other people feel a certain way—but I know the people who aren’t happy until they see someone fail. These are the ones who need to get that ego rush from seeing someone fall apart or they have to be the hero who comes in after to fix it. We all know them. As I said above, we have to recognize when things won’t change. We have to know when it is time to put our expectations of ourselves above what we hope to get from someone else because at the end of the day all we have is ourselves to fulfill our goals/purpose. And to be blunt, I would rather someone else suffocate on their hope that I fail than I suffocate boosting them toward their goal.
There comes a point when you have to recognize a sinking stone whether it is a job, a particular person, or even yourself. These things will literally kill you. Even if it isn’t right away, there will be a time when you realize you’ve gotten so far under that certain opportunities are unrecoverable. Do not spend your time hoping for things to change in your outside circumstances. There is never a guarantee that they will change at all and when it comes to other people, there is even less of a chance because there is free will. When it comes to the expectations you have of yourself, take the time to learn if they are your own or if they belong somewhere else. Cut away anything that isn’t you. Allow yourself to float in the reality of who you are and find your direction in your own truth. Listen to it and keep your head above water.