What is expected of us vs what we want for ourselves

We grow up surrounded by influence and ideas. Our parents tell us one thing, our friends tell us another, our countries culture tell us something else. When growing up amongst it all it can be extremely difficult to distinguish our own internal voice. Are we really acting and doing the things today because it was our own decision or was it the sum social force of external influence?

It’s a question some people put off asking themselves until they are much older which can prove dangerous as realigning after years without directive thought can take a lot of work to change tack. Things like family, credit card debts, long work hours and mortgages can blind us to our own wants and desires as our attention is offloaded onto thinking about other things rather than ourselves. I’m not saying stop thinking about these things, i’m just saying we always need time for ourselves.

Some people don’t ask the question simply because they’ve never been asked to think in that way, a lot of people have grown up with the concept of future as a relatively rigid structure imposed onto them. Giving them the open ended question of what do you really want from your life has far too many unknown possibilities, they feel lost in the question much like contemplating the stars. They do not even know where to begin and revert to the easier option of doing what’s expected.

Some don’t ask because deep down they feel afraid in letting the ‘others’ expectations down. They might be living a relatively ‘good life’ according to their external influences but inside they feel unsatisfied, as if what they are doing is just a performance for the people around them. It is for this reason many people feel trapped in their own expectations. Either way, the fear grows in size the longer the question isn’t asked.

I felt a fear like that, and I didn’t question it until I went abroad. Living in the Netherlands gave me the mental space to re-consider myself my path and what I wanted from life. It was after that moment I realised I didn’t want to become an accountant nor go straight into a 9 – 5 job, there was so much more to this life than what my external world had previously expected from me. In my previous bubble I would have found it difficult to think of this idea as the majority around me was playing the same game, working 9 – 5, studying hard, going out drinking, and going on little holidays.

So why is it so many people play the same game? I believe everyone wants to validate their lives and the direction that they have taken by outwardly expressing it onto others consciously or unconsciously. If they can get other people around them to believe that their way of life is right, it gives themselves a greater false sense of security.

When we are young we are easily moulded by our external surroundings, baby sheep listening to noisy older sheep trying to validate their own lives by influencing younger sheep. It’s only natural to want the best for our loved ones and the younger generations, it’s just that sometimes it comes off as a little forceful, sometimes people try to live through the younger generations as a way to validate their own decisions even though the times have changed.

Taking the confidence to lift our own heads above the crowd, take a breath of our own air and then walk in our own direction isn’t easy. We often try but are simply met by more external influences and ideas trying to push our lives back down the predictable path.

It is for this reason its vitally important to ask ourselves deep down if what we are doing is really what we want or what someone else wants? It’s a question that never ends; there is never one solid answer, because as we grow and develop our expectations of ourselves evolve as well. It’s a question we should frequently be asking ourselves as this is the one question that keeps us on or off our path. Is what i’m doing today taking me a step closer to what I really want? Or am I sacrificing my real desires for someone else’s?

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