(So here we are again. I have a photo. You may or may not want to steal it. Have I said lately that stealing is bad? Surely I have. We’re working on the honor system here.)

What do you do when you have a lot of expectations placed upon you?

Do you get stressed?

Most people do. We’re all just living our lives how we want to live them, and then BAM! Somebody tells you that you need to do something. Or it’s implied. Or something. All you know is that somebody expects you to live up to a certain standard.

Whether it’s a deadline on a project or a significant other asking you to do the dishes every other day, it can be stressful. You were doing things your own way. But then somebody had the nerve to expect something of you.

Here’s the thing: Expectations happen.

You can either submit to them or continue doing things as you are.

You have to accept the consequences either way. If you want to keep your job, then you have to do what your boss asks you to do. But if your boss is asking you to do something illegal or disgusting or immoral, then what? Is your job worth it?

If you want to continue writing for a website, then you have to write articles or whatever it is you write for them. If you stop writing, then you’ll lose your position. It’s still your choice. But you’re expected to continue to do your job.

Let’s go a different direction: Your parents expect you to get an A in a class for a subject you don’t fully understand. You can stress out about it and get a tutor and do nothing but focus on the subject and end up forgetting about your other classes. Or you can continue working as you are. Or you can just do your best. You have a lot of choices. What will your parents do if you don’t get the A? Did they actually tell you to get the A? Or do you just think they expect it of you?

That’s where the lines get blurred. If you feel like there are a thousand expectations, then step back and look at which ones are self-imposed or imagined.

Why or why aren’t these expectations important to you? What would happen if you didn’t fulfill them? Is there something you could have done to prevent this situation? Is there a way to prevent it in the future? What expectations can you afford to stop caring about?

When it comes down to it, it’s all up to you.

I can’t say there’s no wrong choice. But there is. If you’re only living for what other people expect of you, then you’re not doing anything for yourself. Their expectations are probably not that important in the first place. Do what’s best for you. Do what you enjoy.

I can’t give you a conclusive answer to any of it. But if you’re stressed, you absolutely need to re-evaluate your situation and figure out what to do.

Your assignment: Write a scene of a play in which a character stands up to someone who is putting too much undue pressure on him or her. It doesn’t have to be long or especially dramatic. Have at it! 

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