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Stop Living Up To Other People's Expectations



Have you ever been at a point in life when you questioned why you made a certain decision? Perhaps you took a certain path because it was expected of you to follow in your father or mother’s footsteps. Maybe you even felt pressured to “do the right thing for the family.”


When I was in college, I discovered that some of my friends were pursuing majors based on other people’s expectations of them. One of my friends’ parents were both school teachers, so they pressured her to major in education, even though she had a talent and passion for music.


She spoke to me often about her dream to become a professional concert was and composer. Her parents did not approve. They couldn’t see a successful career path for her despite her talent and interest in music. They thought it was all a pipe dream.


I was majoring in fine arts with a discipline in theater, and a minor in communications. I wasn’t at all sure how I would use the major, but my parents believed in my talent and supported me 100%. My friend was miserable taking education courses. Her parents chose all of her college courses for her and as a compromise they allowed her to take a few music classes. She had been taking piano lessons since she was a child and played for the church choir sometimes. They were just convinced that teaching was the best path for her.


My dad, also a teacher, had wanted me to go into education too, but I was closed to the idea. I could not see myself in a classroom with unruly kids all day. Once I made my plans known to him, he said, “ok, just think about becoming a teacher, and whatever you decide is fine, we will support you.” That was that.


I found that I loved writing more than acting and became a journalist right out of college. My friend went into teaching, just like her parents. She taught school for several years, but was never truly happy.


I was majoring in fine arts with a discipline in theater, and a minor in communications. I wasn’t at all sure how I would use the major, but my parents believed in my talent and supported me 100%. My friend was miserable taking education courses. Her parents chose all of her college courses for her and as a compromise they allowed her to take a few music classes. She had been taking piano lessons since she was a child and played for the church choir sometimes. They were just convinced that teaching was the best path for her.


She had always done what other people expected of her. This is not necessarily wrong, but she neglected her own dreams in the process. She packed it all away and tried to be content living someone else’s dreams. She pacified her feelings for a while by continuing to play piano, but in the end, the lack of purpose and self-satisfaction led to self-destruction. She isolated herself from friends and we lost touch. I heard several years ago that she had died. I couldn't help but think that she died regretting not being able to live her life as she desired.


I urge you to go after your dreams and live your life in a way that honors your spirit. Whatever you decide to do, give it your best effort. Just go for it! Focus on your success and not other people’s expectations of you.


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