Should You Always Meet the Expectations of Others?

expectations people personal growth validation Jul 15, 2022

We all have expectations from others, whether our parents, friends or significant other. However, just because we have these expectations doesn't mean we need to follow them. In fact, following the expectations of others can often lead to a life that is not fulfilling. We may be unhappy and unfulfilled if we don't do what makes us happy. So, the question becomes: should you always meet the expectations of others?

What people's expectations mean to you

We all have expectations from people around us. Family members, friends, coworkers, and even strangers have expectations from us. They may be stated to us outright, or they may not be necessarily obvious, but you can get a hint that someone is expecting something from us when they get disappointed when we act in a certain way or produce an output that is not to their liking.

Expectations started to happen way back when we were still a child. Our parents put their expectations on us, and we may remember them saying they only want what is best for us. As children, we don't yet grasp how the world works, so we take in what our parents say and believe they are right. Expectations continue to happen as we grow up and get immersed in various institutions, such as schools, clubs, organizations, and workplaces. People from all walks of life in these places form their expectations of us and what they expect from others. As a result, the way we act and think may be significantly influenced by how others think we should be as a person.

Other people's expectations of us are not necessarily wrong. In a way, it can reflect our self-identity as people form expectations based on how they see us act, talk, and think in front of them. However, somebody else's expectations may not precisely depict the complete picture of who we are as individuals. If you are somebody who depends on others' assessment of who you are, you can easily get swayed by somebody else's expectation and end up doing what they want and think of you. On the other hand, if you have a strong sense of self-identity, you may get conflicted when people expect something else from you that is different from what you believe and want to do.

The critical thing with expectations is balance. Whether you should meet them or not depends on your values and goals in life. By knowing the nature of expectations, you can make sound decisions about whether you will follow them or not. Here are some things you should know about expectations.

1. Expectations can be a reflection of what other people want and think

Most of the time, others' expectations reflect what they want and feel deep inside. They can be something they lack or fail to achieve and want to project it to others. They can also be a subtle way of controlling others by making somebody follow according to others' terms. Occasionally, some people want our best interests from their expectations because they want us to be happy in our lives. Whatever the reason is, keep in mind that expectations from others will not necessarily reflect your interests and beliefs.

2. Expectations might be too much to handle

Disappointments can frequently happen when people don't do what others expect them to, and there is a good reason for that. People who make expectations of others may not consider the capabilities and personalities of the people they are expecting something to do. For example, in companies, it's typical for managers, supervisors, and other high-ranking staff to expect their people to deliver a certain quality of output from their work. As a result, it's common to hear statements like "One should always meet 100% quality output" or "One must always meet all deadlines." While it's understandable that companies must meet client satisfaction to keep thriving, it can be unrealistic to expect perfect quality output every time, as even the most skilled and knowledgeable worker can sometimes fail. Disappointments from failed expectations happen because there is no understanding regarding what one is capable of versus what another person thinks somebody is capable of doing.

3. Expectations don't paint a complete picture of you

It's easy to believe what others say and expect of you if you don't know yourself well. People can have different expectations from you. Some may say you can do something well because they think you are smart, but others may have different expectations and think you can't do it. If you don't know yourself, you then get conflicted about who is telling the truth and what you can do. Others' expectations and assessments of us are just a piece of the whole pie that is us. Even somebody who spent a long time with us, such as our parents, can't entirely know what is happening inside our heads. As such, it's not uncommon to hear instances of parents getting disappointed after their son or daughter followed a different career from what they expected. The parents' wants may not necessarily be what the son or daughter wants. Only you can determine who you are, what you want to do, and what your beliefs will be in life.

How to live our own lives

Expectations are part of our lives. However, reality can be different for each of us, along with our unique interests, beliefs, and goals. Moreover, our view of reality can sometimes spill into other people, and unconsciously, we may be projecting ourselves into their lives. As a result, we may hold them to our standards when they think differently and have different goals and beliefs than us.

To achieve happiness and fulfillment in life, we must carve our unique path while considering what others say and expect from us. Don't just obey what you hear and what other people tell you to do. Instead, gauge whether people's expectations of you are reasonable and align with your goals and beliefs. Learn to listen to your inner voice and prioritize what's best for you, not what others think is best for you. There will only be problems later when you keep on meeting every expectation from all the people in your life. It can make you stressed and feel resentment and anger when you let others dictate your life's flow, which can affect your relationship with other people.

Don't be afraid to follow your desires as long as they are morally correct and don't negatively affect others. Also, speak up and tell others politely when you realize that what they expect from you may be out of bounds and is not in your best interest. Telling others will give them an idea of your abilities and personality so that they may not give unreasonable expectations in the future. Then, when you can live on your terms while maintaining respect with people despite them having different opinions from you, you can start living your life more wholeheartedly and find peace within yourself.

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