Enough Expectations (#40)

Isn’t it hard Enough? Life, I mean…adulting. There are constant demands, expectations, and the never-ending cycle of bills. Everyone wants something from you. In the last post, #39, I talked about regrets – the woulda, coulda, shoulda’s from our past that we carry around. Today, I want to talk about the present and future woulda, coulda, shoulda’s – in other words: expectations.

In addition to the actual requirements of daily adulting, we are inundated with expectation after expectation. Some of those expectations come from other people – all the ways we don’t measure up in their eyes – yet most of the unrealistic expectations on our lives come from us. And we carry those expectations around like baggage in our minds and on our souls.

I should do this. I could do that. They would like me to do such and such. Do you ever want to say “Enough!”? Even if these things are good or enjoyable, we can easily become drained, stretched too thin, or find ourselves chasing someone else’s ideas of what we ought to do or be. (By the way, I have more on this is post #18, What’s on Your Bucket List?)

Do we really take the time to look at our calendars (or our wallets!) and really think about where we want to spend our precious resources: time, talent, treasure, and energy? Or do we let others dictate it to us? Do we set our priorities or do “they” (whoever “they” are)? How to “they” know what we need anyway?

I was reminded of this today at the bank. I met with a lady banker to open a new account. She was kind, beautiful, and while it was subtle, I noticed that she had not washed her hair today. She had at least day 2 hair. As I sat there, I reflected on how that cultural expectation has changed since I was younger. I notice that a lot of women now are feeling comfortable going out for the day without freshly washed hair. (Hello dry shampoo!) That’s so refreshing!

But I also know that, conversely, showing up to your kid’s soccer game (really any kids activity) is about as much pressure as the 20-year class reunion. The proverbial (and actual) soccer moms show up with hair and makeup all done up meticulously to look like they just rolled out of bed, complete with overpriced designer athletic clothing…and of course the Starbuck’s in hand. A youth sporting event in many cases is akin to a local beauty pageant, with all of the trappings of the regrettable high-school cliques. I have several nieces and nephews and I have been to many a soccer, hockey, baseball, basketball, football, or volleyball game. I would observe this behavior and internally shake my head. Wow, we women really can’t escape the pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, dress a certain way – even at little league events.

I think we need to give ourselves and each other a break! We women have been competing against one another for too long. Rather than competing against one another we should be competing for one another. Afterall, a rising tide lifts all boats. Can we agree to not put pressure and expectations on one another? Can we just give each other a break? Please.

Let’s be intentional to not give in to the expectations of other people. We have to know what we need and be ok with making our own choices, and we need to be ok with others doing the same. Had a rough week and just want to get an extra half-hour of sleep on Saturday morning before the little league game rather than arriving with freshly washed hair – go for it! Prioritize what gives you margin and allows you to be kind to yourself while still making it to the game. You Rock Mom!

I was super proud of that working mom at the bank. By the pictures on her desk, I could tell she had two kids and she mentioned she was divorced. Life is probably stressful and busy. I’m glad she chose to not wash her hair today; I was proud of her for choosing Enough. And I smiled, because today I did the same.

The next time you have an expectation for someone else, perhaps consider the weight of the load they are already carrying. Rather than heaping expectations upon them, adding guilt and shame to their already burdened back, give them the grace to take that load off instead.

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