Many of us live out our entire life afraid of what others think of us.
We live with countless expectations on our back like invisible fitness weights strapped to our ankles and wrists.
“You can’t do that…”
“You should be more like…”
“If you don’t this by this time something is wrong with you…”
The problem with many of these beliefs and expectations is that they become deeply subconscious. We don’t even notice they’re there much of the time.
But whether we know they’re there or not, those expectations bear down on us and force us to live a life that isn’t true to who we are.
Few fates are as bad as one in which the person never realizes their potential, the truest version of themselves, free to express their innermost beliefs and passions unobstructed by the thoughts and feelings of those around them– even if those people are loved ones.
So it’s time to learn how to say no. To say no to the ridiculous expectations of others, who want nothing more than to tear you down because they feel as though life has torn them down.
They want someone to sit in misery with them.
But you won’t– you have a truth to realize and something special and unique to express. And you can only do that by living by your own rules.
Life is about making your own happiness – and living by your own rules.
– Aimee Mullins
So, here’s how to say no to the expectations of others and live by your own rules.
You can’t live up to the hype
We’re so often fighting against these expectations– subtly, secretly– that we never simply turn around to look at them in their completeness.
Take a moment to think for a second what your life would look like if you lived based on all the typical societal, and maybe a few of the more common parental, expectations:
- You’d probably be a doctor, lawyer, or engineer
- You’d probably wear a suit if you’re a man, or a dress if you’re a woman, to work
- You’d probably watch sports on your off time
- You’d probably have a regular car, house, and possessions exactly that of which millions of other people have
These are just a few but they’re used as an example more than some factual set of expectations.
The point? Your life would be a ridiculous charade if you lived based on all of these expectations together.
You can’t possibly live a happy life while being strangled by these unrealistic expectations. Especially when they’re taken together.
Instead, stop and look around you. See that most everyone else is trying to catch their own tail and notice where it’s gotten them.
Next, you need to know where to go.
Now it’s time to…
Follow the feeling
If the first step was to shake you of the ridiculous expectations set upon you, and about how those expectations will make you into some cookie-cutter stranger to even yourself, this step is about finding your true self.
And you do that by getting out there and playing again.
Go back to the feeling you go when you were younger, playing around outside with your imagination and a couple of toys.
When you were younger, you followed the thing which was most fascinating and thrilling to you at the time. Sure, you had a bit shorter attention span back then and it looked more like you had shiny object syndrome, but you were onto something.
Find something that fascinates you. It could be anything: A type of art, a movie, an event, a country, or something else altogether. Then, jump in with your whole being and experience that thing fully.
Allow it to wash over you and see how it makes you feel. Continue to follow this feeling from experience to experience and you’ll begin to notice something: you’ve started forming a fresh, new identity.
This new identity is true to who you are because you’re following your muse, that feeling you get when life is exciting and you’re expressing yourself honestly without the expectations of society, your parents, colleagues, or “friends” looming over you.
Life loses meaning when we forget the value of honest expression, when it goes from being one big adventure to one enormous to-do list, that to-do list filled with things like “make sure everyone knows I’m normal and aren’t into drag,” and “appear to be totally fine and not tortured by anxiety.”
You have no responsibility to live up to the expectations of others. In fact, it’s damn right impossible with how many are placed on us.
So, live by your own rules. Or die regretting it.