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You don’t get a say in it. As you grow older, people naturally expect more out of you.

You must be more responsible, better organized, more composed, calmer, wiser, less petty.

Perhaps the hardest expectation to fulfill is that of selflessness. As children, we are ever-focused on our own immediate needs and desires. We threw tantrums over the most minute details imaginable and it was alright, albeit obnoxious, because we were “just children.”

It doesn’t work that way as an adult though. As adults, we are often charged with detaching ourselves from our own feelings for the sake of others. This may be the case in a professional setting, where we must do our jobs regardless of investment.

It may be when we are around those younger than us, and social norms dictate we should be wiser and let them have their way when possible.

It may even be when we are around those who are older, and we are expected to be respectful and thoughtful.

It isn’t easy to put someone else’s feelings before your own. It isn’t as simple to say something hurtful in the moment, because the guilt of it now sticks with you for days or months or years.

The thing about these expectations that makes them so firm though, is that we have accepted all of their terms for ourselves. We expect ourselves to behave a certain way as adults. This means upholding these expectations even if it makes us miserable. Or, worse, failing to fulfill one and then suffering through the guilt and self-negativity that ensues.

There isn’t much I miss about my childhood. As a child, I often felt helpless and uncomfortable. I dreamed of freedom on many different levels, and I’ve gotten what I wished for over the years.

But I do miss the timeless “just a child” excuse from time to time. I miss having to be responsible only for myself, if that.

Now, there is nothing to do but to learn how to meet these Great Expectations.

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