I have written before about being tired of being ‘The Nice Girl,‘ I have written before about ‘not living up to my potential’ and I feel they are both relevant to the immense pressure I sometimes feel, the pressure of everyone else’s expectations, which because of the way I am, I make my own expectations of myself, and then I start to crumble. Lately, I feel as though I am being pulled in a million different directions from what everyone expects of me – they expect the best, in all their different ways. They put me on this pedestal and over the years, have made me too scared to fail, too scared to even try sometimes, because of the fear of not living up to what they expect, and in all honest? It’s becoming too much.
I can’t be the girl my mum wants me to be. I can’t be the girl my boss wants me to be. I can’t be the girl my friends want me to be. I can’t be the girl the Internet wants me to be. I can’t be the girl, that guy who thinks I’m cool, wants me to be. I can’t even be the girl I want to be, because I have never known who that is. Everytime I feel like I do something for me, someone has an opinion about it. Someone says, ‘Oh that’s not you.’ Someone looks at me with pity, or not understanding at me. People judge me, because I’m not living up to their expectations.
This year, I made a personal decision, that was mine to make. Mine, no one elses. It impacts my life. And because it’s not a decision that my friends, or my dad, or my colleague would have made, they put their pressures on me to make a decision they expect from me.
I think it is something I have always struggled with, but it is getting harder and harder to rise above it the older I get, the more that my decisions are more concrete, and permanent. I feel more than ever, I have realised that we are all still discovering ourselves, even after being an ‘adult’ as I am constantly changing as a person, my style changes, my opinions sometimes change, my priorities change, and this is as much a surprise to me as it is to others. A lot of people have been talking lately about people ‘growing together’ or ‘growing apart’ and I think that’s an important distinction, but while I feel/felt weighed down by what other people expected me to grow into, I wasn’t growing at all, I was compressing, and one day I would explode.
I still don’t know where I’m going. I don’t know what I’m doing, or what is going to happen, but whatever decisions I end up making, I need to stop being held back by ‘what people think’ but in a way it is bigger than that. This isn’t just worrying what the woman behind the counter in Asda thinks of my hair, or wondering if people are looking at me in the straight, this is digging myself out from years worth of expectations that I have been trying to live up to for years now. It might be something we all need to do, without even realising it’s something we struggle with, because it’s the people we love that sometimes carry the biggest judgements.
I’m picking this post back up again almost a month after writing it, a month after ‘taking a break’ from one of the best friendships I’ve ever had. In the last week I had a week away from my normal life, and in certain ways, away from certain expectations of my life, because I was with people that haven’t always known me, and to a certain extent I could escape the walls of expectations that have built up around me. From a young age, the expectation is there that you are going to have certain type of life, and when you reach the age that those expectations aren’t really sustainable anymore, that maybe you won’t reach every bar you’ve ever set for yourself, that is when life becomes the hardest. I have spent years trying not only to live up to others’ expectations of myself, but mine that I always made for myself, and we all need to cut ourselves some slack and forgive ourselves.
What I’m wearing