As you are birthed into this world, expectations are thrust upon you from day dot. As a child you’re expected to behave, follow your parent’s rules and grow into functioning members of society; but is that how we should be? Humans are instinctive beings. We are hedonistic and self involved creatures yet are forever seeking fulfilment from others and getting off on being ‘socially acceptable.’ But why are we so hell bent on doing things according to someone else’s agenda, instead of forging our own path?
I’m in my late twenties and missed out on a lot of my teenage/twenty something years due to illness. I wasn't invited to many parties; I was usually found sitting with the geeks, nerds and other societal ‘rejects’ and I rarely stood up for myself. I arrived to university later than most and while I was socially awkward, I was drunk for most of its duration – probably trying to make up for lost time.
I graduated, admittedly, a much more social person with two degrees in education under my belt. On the outside it might appear as though I meet the expectations for your average twenty something Joe, but you know, I kind of don’t.
Expectation: I should be on the way towards owning my own house, living independently and organising my life. I should be going antique shopping and filling my house with things that society deems as ‘nice, appropriate and grown up.
Reality: I have recently moved back into my parent’s place (they have a pool table and are getting a Jacuzzi), spending the money that I make on my hobbies: concert tickets and alcohol. I am getting brunch like a filthy millennial - avocado on toast - so no first home for me and the little furniture that I own is either from K-mart or the side of the street.
Expectation: I should be starting my career, building connections and slowly working my way up the socio-political hierarchy in primary and early childhood education so that I can be a good, tax-paying citizen who contributes to society. Following the curriculum and style of teaching that our parents had twenty something (see what I did there) years ago.
Reality: I work casually and when I can. I spend time with side hobbies such as writing, podcasts and stand up comedy. Plans for the future include possibly moving out, the theme of my next party and eating comfort food.
Expectation: That I should be settling down and creating a family. I should have two kids and be teaching them how to not make waves and be cogs in the machine, pushing them to accept what is asked of them and obey societies rules.
Reality: Coming home (if I decided to leave the house in the first place), taking off my pants and falling asleep to Netflix - not always in that order. I spend time with my new girlfriend, taking it slow so that we don’t rush into anything. There’s a lot of late nights, heavy metal, sex, booze and TV series after TV series. I get up in the morning with a hangover, a dry mouth and an urge to eat something greasy.
Expectation: I should be cooking wholesome meals for myself, covering the basic needs that the human body needs: vitamins, minerals and low amounts of sugar, fats and cholesterol. My diet is important as I have recently been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, which is a real pain in the arse.
Reality: I’ll eat a packet of rice crackers and twelve slices of cheese, chased with either strawberry milk or tequila. When I'm out, I’ll buy something that is essentially just saturated fats, covered in cheese and with a happy helping of bacon and garlic. Like drinking, I may feel it the next day, but that is the problem of my future self.
Why do other people's expectations affect us so much? Humans are, by nature, social and communal creatures, and acceptance plays a huge part in that. In particular, our efforts to conform to the status quo. This can become dangerous, that craving to be accepted can result in negative experiences for a particular individual.
Societal expectations include women being expected to become housewives and mothers or single crazy cat ladies and men being expected to be strong, straight and unemotional, and if they are not that they are judged as emotional, homosexual or weird. Then you've got the idea that feminists hate all men, that all gun owners are crazy red necks and Star Wars fans don't ever shower. These are all damaging ideas, because each person has their own sense of individuality that should always outweigh social pressure that are forced onto them.
Assumptions, judgement and stereotypes are ruining what could be an amazing friendship, a new relationship, or even gaining a bit more insight into our fellow humans. For the TL;DR crowd: make your own expectations, don't judge others until you know their story, and not all Star Wars fans stink!
Jay is hoping to find work soon in either the primary education, stand up comedy or ice-cream testing fields. He chills by watching cartoons, drink tequila or counting down the days until the next concert. Find him on Facebook as @Shakey-Jay, as well as on twitter for random humorous moments.