We all have an idea of what our expectations of what our ideal life is. We try to define what happiness and success mean to us, and translate that into our actions and daily lives. The problem is that we aren’t always the one to hold ourselves to what we believe and use other people, our family, friends, the media, and other areas to measure our lives against theirs. It’s that damn measuring stick of expectation, let’s talk.
Ronny was a running back for a local high school in Denver. He was coming into his senior season and was on track to break most of the school records this coming season. He had already had interest from multiple Division 1 schools and was looking at having his entire school paid for through a football scholarship. Ronny’s father was also a football star. During his career in college he tore his ACL during his freshman campaign leading him to eventually step away from the sport due to complications with his knee among other injuries. Ronny has always wanted to learn about getting into the travel and tourism industry, but the schools he is looking at do not have a program for it. Ronny’s father continually pressures him into looking at following in his footsteps to play Division 1 football, yet Ronny is torn between his father’s expectations and his own aspirations.
Sammy was a successful student and entrepreneur all throughout his academic career. He started his first business in high school doing lawn care and landscaping. He then started his own fraternity and raised all funds to support it including finding multiple sponsors for all events held. Sammy then became a salesman at a successful fortune 500 company upon graduation. Sammy and his college girlfriend moved to Minneapolis where he would be covering the entire state of Minnesota to support his customer base. He quickly became successful, to no surprise of his peers, family, and girlfriend. One day Sammy was heading to work and was thinking about how as a kid he had always wanted to be a teacher and realized he got lost in making money and being successful along the way. Sammy knew he could not talk to his girlfriend about this because if he were to pursue this career path their lifestyle would change drastically. His girlfriend would not take too kindly to the sudden drop in income that she had become accustomed to from Sammy’s success as a salesman. He also knew he could not talk to his mother, who raised him as a single mother because she worked so hard to get to where she was at and expected Sammy to work as hard as she had to become the VP of her company.
Margaret was a stay at home mom who had three beautiful children and a very successful husband who worked as a travelling consultant for mid-sized manufacturer based out of the Midwest. Margaret was responsible for taking care of the kids and getting them to all their respective practices, recitals, and games. She also had to keep up on the housework and preparing the meals for the family. One problem she ran into was that her husband often would not be home for weeks at a time as his job covered the Midwest. When Margaret was in college she had gone to a meeting for a photography club and had aspirations to start her own small business for different types of events from graduations to weddings. This got put on hold as she met her husband and before she knew it had three babies and a family to support. Her husband expects her to take care of everything while he is on the road, but she is starting to feel overwhelmed and is starting to not be able to keep up. She wanted to talk to her sister who was in a similar position, but her husband made more money and was able to hire additional help so she couldn’t relate to her struggles nor her passion for photography as her sister was happy with where she was at.
Sammy, Ronny, and Margaret all are struggling with that damn measuring stick. As humans, one of our faults is that we seek acceptance for the decisions we make and reassurance that we are going down the right path, even when we don’t think it’s the right path for ourselves. We hold ourselves up to the measuring stick of other people’s expectations rather than our own. Ronny was facing his father’s expectation of following in his footsteps to chase football rather than his own passion of travel and tourism. Sammy was faced with his girlfriend’s new found expectation of the lavish lifestyle they were leading with his profound success at work instead of pursuing his love for teaching. Margaret was stuck in a cycle of falling farther behind on keeping up with her kids. She couldn’t split the work load with her travelling husband and was beginning to regret never pursuing her interest in photography. People are afraid to step out and make a decision that other people may not agree with, even knowing they may regret it. The weight of regret on one person’s shoulders can lead you down even worse paths. Fear is temporary, regret is forever.
Never put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket. The expectations you hold yourself accountable for are your own and no one else’s. The decisions you make are not measured against anyone else’s beliefs about how you should live your ideal life. Too often we get stuck in trying to make other people happy and we don’t find time for our own happiness. Find what makes you happy, fulfilled, excited, and overjoyed and pursue that. In life, people may not always agree with what you want or where you want to go. People will always be there to throw shame, hate, and blame on what you do… but the people who truly love you and care about you will not hold you to their own measuring stick, but know that you are doing what you think is right and are there to help where they can. Don’t look back on your life and think I wish I would have pursued it and say I’m glad I choose this path.