There is a scary thing out there. It lurks around the corner; it hovers over your head like your own personal rain cloud; it is the monster under your bed and the hurdle you attempt to jump over. It’s not ISIS, and it’s not your parents having sex. It is called “expectations.” Everyone has them. You may not even realize that you do, or that they are being placed on you. Whether it’s the idea that your boyfriend has to get you flowers every time he makes you upset, or your coach wanting you to catch every single pass thrown at you. They make or break you.
Many people have begun to form the opinion that millennials have such an easy life. We receive trophies for Last Place and Best Sportsmanship. We have helicopter moms who baby us until we cannot function without their hovering presence. We are getting married later, having kids later…life is nothing but a breeze for us. However, I disagree.
However, its not just professionally. Expectations corrupt all aspects of our lives. I see expectations break down everyone around me. Meredith is not skinny enough for the guy she likes. Greg is not involved enough at school to apply for the job he wants. Luke is not strong enough to face his mother’s illness. Taylor is not healthy enough to go back to school as she battles her anoxeria. Or the worst of them all, that voice in the back of your head making you believe, “I am not good enough.”
I have had that moment many times in my life, but one stuck with me the most just a few weeks ago. Everyone in college, at one point in their life, has applied for a job, internship, etc. You start the application process. You try and make yourself look the best you can, even though you’re afraid it might not be enough.
Finally, you receive the position! Start the fireworks! Pour the champagne! You did it!
….or did you?
I had received an acceptance into a program within my school that allowed me to take classes that pertained to my major and acquire an internship this summer. The program was all in the field I am studying, government. I was so excited and proud of myself for receiving my first acceptance! However, my idea of an achievement ended up not being enough for the real world.
I remember messaging my friend over Facebook telling her how I had gotten into the program. She immediately responded with, “SHUT UP. SHUT UP.” Her response only got me more excited as I saw that she was now calling me to congratulate me on my acceptance. We began talking about the program and all of its details. I expressed her how excited and happy I was, but I could tell the more I talked the less she seemed impressed with my accomplishment.
Settle? I had thought this phone call would be happy…but it ended up becoming a lecture. The program did not seem prestigious as I was only competing with people from my school. A different program would be better. Why wasn’t I trying harder to get a different position? How come I wasn’t more concerned that I might not get another internship? How is this going to look on my resume? Is this all I was going to get?
“You’re not doing enough. You need to work harder.”
I was speechless. What had I done wrong? Did I not deserve to be happy? I was I really not doing enough? My thoughts began to race. I was not smart enough, involved enough…why had I believed that I could be happy with this program?
That conversation really upset me. I remember sobbing in my bed and having no motivation to try and move on. But, after having time to reflect on it, I realized that it should not have affected me as much as it did. Since when did other people’s idea of how our life should look or be affect how we truly live? Why do we let other people’s opinion of success and a happy life change what we believe? My life is different from the person sitting next to me and different from my parent’s.
We are all growing; no matter what stage of life we are in. So, no matter where you are in life right now, if you are trying and attempting to achieve your goal in life, (I mean YOUR goal, not your mother’s, not your father’s, not your teacher’s, yours.) then do not let anyone stop you. Your yellow brick road is not the same as mine. Yours may be winding and may have you encounter many witches and wizards before you reach your Emerald City.
Do not look back and stay focused on what you want and what you believe your future holds, because, in the end, you are always enough.