In todays world, the feeling of pressure from high expectations can become over bearing. High expectations are all around us. They come in many forms, from media (fashion and body types) to work, partners and parents. These expectations can be difficult to meet and are invariably unclear or subtle at best.
At work, for 8 or more hours a day, we’re required to be the best at what we do (and for most this is no longer just vocational). At home, we need to be the best husband, wife or partner, for many the best parent as well. Whichever of these we are, we’re expected to meet the bar and that bar may not be clear, yet it’s all around us.
My mum is often confused, unable to understand my life and how intense it can be compared to her own. For many, 60+ years ago life was simpler. There appeared to be clearer expectations on society and an individual. In work there were clearer boundaries, at home, life was simpler with less distraction.
We’ve come along way in those 60 years. Life is better for many, along with greater levels of equality. We have more food to choose from than ever before, as well as more scientific knowledge, all of which helps us live healthier, longer lives.
Any downsides to this advancement are often ignored, as the upsides are numerous. But what of those downsides? Should we really ignore them?
I work in a modern tech company, one where expectations are high. I support teams of people across different countries, so I need to be ‘on’, inspirational, supportive and available for the whole day. I enjoy the challenge. Those people I’m surrounded by are smarter than me, more technical and many have a curiosity like my own. A curiosity that pushes learning as part of everyday activity.
I’m a husband and parent too. So at home I try to be a role model, aspiring to be the best husband and parent I can be. All of this is hard. I can honestly say on any given day I fail at one or multiple things. I’m human like you. As humans we’re flawed.
We would benefit from being more open to those flaws. Talking about them, admitting them and ultimately helping ourselves and others release the pressure of ‘perfect’.
And here’s the thing, none of us are perfect. That social network feed may show you someone’s highlight reel, but remember it’s just that, a highlight reel.
When was the last time someone disappointed you? Did you pause to think about what happened and why? Chances are it wasn’t intentional. Were they aware of your expectations? What was going on in their life? Was it out of character? Did they know they were disappointing you?
Much of the conflict in our lives appears from misunderstanding. Where we forget the perspective and that immense pressure on us to ‘perform’.
I’m human, I make mistakes. Even when I disappoint, I’m aspiring to have the best intentions. I don’t intend to disappoint or fail, and there in lies the key, my recent epiphany.
So I made a change, one on how I see the world. One focused on more purposeful thinking around expectations of others. I now have only one expectation outside of any explicit agreement.
That expectation? It’s simple, everything a person does, every action they take, it needs to be done with good intent. As long as that’s the case, I’m not going to be disappointed.
I’m real, not perfect. You’re real, not perfect too.
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