We grow up in this world with so many expectations. There’s this preplanned laundry list of achievements we must check off to prove to the world we’re not straying from the path of success. Society expects us to reach these milestones, and if we miss them, our reputations are destined to drown in a sinking ship.
They wait anxiously for us to take our first steps. They want to see us making dramatic progress in school and graduate on time. They pressure us to enter the workforce fresh out of college, and at the ripe age of 21 make enough money to support ourselves on our own. They assume we will find someone worthy enough of our love, get married, and have children, all the while living every day to the fullest. They expect us to cycle through these motions of what we think we need to succeed in making our lives count. But here’s the catch 22: we can’t even point a finger at who “they” is because this addictive mindset of staying on track and adhering to public expectations takes up vacancy in our unconscious minds from the moment we take our first breath. “They” are all around us, inside every one of us, especially feeding on us from within. “They” is the underlying assumption that one accomplishment after another means total victory. And “they” is the belief in assuming that everything is a competition to see who comes out on top, and the only way to win is to put our heads down and follow the path blindly.
Think about it. We’re trained to view others as roadblocks to knock down in a race we anticipate to win, with the banner of congratulations in our name waiting for us at the finish line. But this race is just an act. We just strap our sneakers and sport the running gear, but we fail to endure the sweat and exhausted lungs that come with the strain of physically running. Theoretically, this running analogy is a perfect fit for ourselves as human beings. It’s easy to put on a face and play a part—the part society expects us to play—while we lose ourselves along the way. And it’s one thing for me to be saying all this to fit my role as a writer and to simply make sure the audience reads what they want to hear. But I’m speaking from my own experiences, using my own words, and trying to escape this suffocating blanket of rules and expectations that’s raining down.
I’ve finally realized how much I’ve been a slave of an unconscious obsession to follow the rules just to gain approval from the people I thought I needed to please. I’m so sick of following the same worn down trail that everyone on God’s green earth treads. I’m tired of expectations and assumptions about how I should be living my life. I’m done feeling too scared to take risks because people may not agree. It’s up to me to make my own decisions. I have a right to change my opinion, my goals, my passions. It’s time to stop letting other people’s opinions take the wheel while I’m stuck riding shotgun.
So while everyone has crafted lists and joined gyms and taken pledges for their New Year’s resolutions, I’m going a different direction. I’m making an effort to find myself. I’m going to listen to my own opinions and do what I think is right. I’m focusing on how to find happiness my own way. And I’m definitely going to stop worrying about how I fit into the version of myself society wants to see, because I owe it to myself to not only live life to the fullest, but to live my life to the fullest.