I have a young friend who auditioned for her high school play a few weeks back. As she shared thoughts about her upcoming audition, I smiled. She talked about how she didn’t have to worry about dancing well because people who know her don’t expect her to be a great dancer. But, when it comes to singing, that is different. She has a beautiful voice, and she wanted to perform well for vocal part of her audition. I love that she knows and is comfortable with her abilities as a performer.
That conversation got me thinking about people and expectations and performance. I find it easy to be myself when I either don’t care or don’t worry about measuring up to others’ expectations. On the other hand, when I know someone expects me to accomplish something, I tend to falter. I set myself up for failure, worried I won’t live up to expectations . . . and then I don’t. I walk away from the scenario beating myself up. But, when I’m placed in a situation where the “role” was given to me, I feel safe fulfilling it in my unique way.
Expectations, real or perceived, place pressure on us. Some of us perform well under pressure, and some of us crumble. It’s taken years for me to feel okay about not bowing to the pressure of others’ expectations. I finally understand I will never fulfill what some people expect of me. And that is okay. I’m learning to shift my focus from living to appease people to learning what pleases God and doing it. It’s not always easy, but it is always the path with less pressure.
Your Turn: How do you handle expectations? What do you do to maintain a good perspective about them?