Fear is a funny thing, but the expectations can really compound it. I have so many fears and expectations surrounding this blog. I am constantly scared that I'm not doing it right or living up to the expectations. But it goes much deeper than that. I have fears and expectations about nearly every little detail of my life, and it's suffocating. Often I just want to cut loose, not care that I feel like an idiot when I dance, reach out to a friend, or just be my own self.
The problem, I've especially found, with expectations is where they come from. For me, they often seem to come from what I think others expect of me that I then turns into my own, sometimes very twisted, expectation for my self. It has seriously terrified me the number of times I really think about why I'm pushing myself so hard or beating myself up over something so insignificant, only to find that it's because I feel that I should be because other people. This doesn't mean that everything is based on what others think, but, unfortunately, I've found that these expectations really get in the way of me building my own healthy expectations for myself.
The fears come into play alongside the expectations. A few posts back, I mentioned that my deepest and darkest fear was this: that everyone I love would leave me but that it would be all my fault. This has made so much clear to me. Why I have trouble connecting with others, why I always feel the need to double and triple check that we are OK, and why I have such steep expectations about every inch of my life.
I cannot be abandoned, and to make damn sure that happens I must expect the world of myself. Problem is that when you expect such lofty things, it kinda goes south. The expectations don't help; they just feed into the fear. It may even go as far as becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. I truly believe that if I hadn't started on my mental health adventure that there was a good chance that I could have eventually pushed others away and never understood the fear driving me.
And it really did drive my every knee-jerk reaction and expectation. Nearly every time I shared how I felt, my opinion or thoughts, and something felt off, I would feel like I needed to run away and/or self-punish. Because, obviously, I had done something wrong. That was just reality...I had no idea what I was doing and how it was keeping me from reaching my full potential and happiness. I somehow felt that I didn't deserve to be happy. Though I wanted it so desperately, I thought I was fine.
Pulling this apart hasn't been easy, and it most definitely doesn't happen overnight. But I can say that it does get easier. I've been actively working on this for probably a year or more at this point, and portions are only now just starting to click. Other parts are starting to surface, and still further things feel pretty settled. One of the more recent things that finally sunk in, in a new and improved way, was trying to differentiate between others' expectations and self-expectations. Meaning that when I've working out and worried that I look ridiculous because of what other people might think, that is an other expectation or fear. Basically, am I worried for how I or others think about what's happening?
Working through this has also made me realize just how much I've hid from myself and those I love. How much I was so scared to show or think that even I didn't know it existed. I am very grateful for this time to hermit a bit, due to the exiling for the good of the realm. It has given me new perspective on what I need in life. I had been coasting though life, going along with things that are all good and wonderful things, but never asking myself if I should be accepting them into my schedule. Other people wanted (or I felt, expected) me to, and therefore I participated.
After we are back to socializing normally (whatever normally is...), I am giving myself permission to really look at my expectations, make sure that they are truly mine, and that fear is not driving them. Sure, it is always scary to make waves and changes that you hadn't been willing/able to before. But what is worse? Being the truest version of yourself or letting things slide until ultimately you have no real sense of self?
I want to be my best self. I want to be a better friend, wife, artist, person. The best way I can see of doing all of that is to be the most true, honest and vulnerable version of myself. Because if I truly love myself and build healthy self-expectations, I can face my fears and strive for better. Never perfection, as I've heard it: perfect is the enemy of good.
Let's all agree to try to be a bit kinder, dance like nobody is watching (cliche, I know), be your ridiculous, weird, strange self, and enjoy every minute because, dammit, you deserve it!