How many of us live with expectations that are rarely, if ever, achieved?
If you’re like me, you’ve probably imagined what your life could be like given all things you hoped for to come true for you. And chances are you have lamented not having lived up to the standards you’ve created for yourself, often called expectations. Expectations come in many forms. These are the “should haves” in life: I should have gone back to school, should have had that great job by age x, should have been married by now, should have purchased my own home by now, or should have started that business. The “shoulds” you place on your dreams may even lead to regret. Regret can often lead to depression.
If we take another perspective, we would see that the demands we make on ourselves are often too rigid, too constraining, and very unforgiving. It’s as if we have allowed the status quo to take over our belief systems. Aim not to give in to the ideology society has rendered the appropriate way to live. Instead, embrace your individuality.
Notice that while you might not have the ideal lifestyle you bought into, you can change if you so desire. You see, your life is your own and those who make up our society are individuals too who often don’t get it right. Do we really want to listen to them?
Plato (427-347 B.C) demonstrates humankind and its inability to see the truth from the shadows and what appears to be real in the Allegory of the Cave found in Book VII in his famed philosophical work The Republic.
For your reading pleasure:
When we only see the screened images of people say in tabloids such as People Magazine, Cosmo, GQ, Men’s Health, etc., the images stay with us. The message they send to readers is subtle but clear. Here are air-brushed pictures of “beautiful people” who are better than you, and whose level of perfection you will never reach. Herein lies the seeds of unrequited desire. You won’t have to look far for other types of magazines for a similar effect. Better Homes and Gardens will have you hankering for an old colonial with expansive gardens on your massive acreage, even if the style is not your taste, or perhaps the latest in furniture and appliances to go along with your newly remodeled kitchen or living-room. Basically, the images make us feel bad for being normal.
These tactics aren’t new. Remember the ideals summed up for us with the nuclear family? You know, the perfect family consists of a male and female parent set and two children, preferably one male and one female. I am sure we cannot predict our offspring outcome anymore than who our partners will be.
How about the American Dream ideology? The criteria here consists of that nuclear family, but not before you grow up in your own nuclear family, go to college for an excellent education, find work that allows you to purchase a home with a white picket fence, and an automobile for your garage. Did I miss anything? How many of us don’t fit this criteria? How strange is it to think we should possess and live these fantasies? Honestly, the farther we are from the ideology, the more American we become – the more normal we are.
What of a life of merely appearances? Shall mankind never be authentic? We are certainly not the clothing we wear, the place we live, or what vehicle we drive or do not drive. What is inside us is of most importance. Why not let your quality characteristics shine instead of the bling around your neck? Regardless of what you own, relationships and intimacy with others will find you out. Let go of all the external flairs and be genuine. Aim not to let others influence what they think you ought to possess, or where they think you ought to be in your life. Doing so only causes despair. The best relationships seek to know the real you. Be real and live well.