Saturday, February 1, 2014

Your Expectations vs. Who I Am...

Expectations. The belief that something will happen.

We're all surrounded by them. We're expected to abide by the law. We're expected to arrive at work or school (and expected to be there on time).

And that's great. It creates structure, and I'm a huge fan of structure.

But where do we draw the line on expectations?

Do we let people create expectations on who we are and who we will be?

Do we let those expectations play any role in defining who we are and who we will be?

That's up to the individual, I believe. But like I said, everyone has expectations set upon them. I'm expected to be a musician. I'm a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew, a cousin, and a million other things. I'm a tall, white, caucasian male with green eyes and brown hair.

I'm expected to be sassy, quirky, sarcastic, blunt, funny, a little pessimistic, a realist, empathetic, a musician, a leader, and a friend.

And that's great, because I revel in being all of those things. But there's a difference between the first and second list.

I am all of those things in the first list because I was born. I had no control over it. Could I stop being any of those things? No. I could cut myself off from my family (but I won't), I could dye my hair (but I've learned to enjoy being called JewFro), and I could get contacts (but I'm poor and, incidentally, I think the color of my eyes is lovely).

The second list are all things I could change. Maybe not easily, but it's possible that I could stop being sassy. I could forgo my use of sarcasm and quit being funny. I could detach myself from my rather strong sense of empathy and walk around with my head in the clouds with a sense of reality that is far from real.

I could stop being a musician, I could lock away my viola in its case and never touch it again, I could never run my hands over piano keys again (not that I'm an accomplished pianist in the slightest), and I could never let a musical note come out of my mouth ever again. I could eventually silence the music in my head that literally never stops playing (currently I'm running through Brahm's second symphony, which is where we get his famous lullaby. Feel free to take a listen: ). That sounds really cool, right? It's like I have the Spotify app in my brain, and it never stops playing music. WRONG. It's annoying and distracting.

I could stop being a leader. I could stop encouraging others to expand on their leadership potential, because that's what a leader does. A leader makes more leaders.

And I could stop being a friend. I could stop interacting with people that I share common interests and emotional bonds with.

So what keeps me from doing all those things?

Am I sassy because it's expected of me? Am I a musician because of the expectations of others? Am I a friend because my friends expect me to be a friend?


I am these things out of my own volition. I think that there's a large number of people who are what they are and do what they are because of expectations (Cough cough congress cough cough) and because society seems to be so hellbent on kissing the butts of others.

Eventually the expectations that the world places on you are going to clash, and if you let expectations dictate your actions and let them influence who you grow up to be you are going to run into conflict.

So don't let them shape you. If your life is clay then you, and only you, should be the potter.

So let me make this one final thing clear: who somebody expects me to be plays the most minuscule of roles in who I am. I am metamorphosing into what I want to be because it's what I want, not what others expect.  

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