Home | Video

Letting Go of Expectations

By Justin Bouchard, Grade 11
Expectations. Each of us is bombarded with them every single day. It’s like you’re in a room with all your parents, teachers, peers and friends, all throwing these expectations at you, trying to get you down. Kind of like that one scene in The Incredibles where Mr. Incredible gets shot with black sticky beach balls. On top of all of that, you’ve probably put all sorts of unrealistic expectations on yourself. So while others are throwing these expectations at you, you’re also attacking yourself. Just like Mr. Incredible, you’re bound to be taken down at some point.
Well, I’m here today to tell you that none of it matters.
An expectation can be defined as a belief that someone will or should achieve something. When it comes to someone’s expectations for you, it boils down to something someone else wants you to do or someone they want you to be. The reality of it is life is far too short to be worrying about what other people want from you. What really matters is what you want for yourself, what you want to accomplish and the type of person that you want to be.
As I’m telling you that expectations don’t matter, I’m also telling it to myself, as I personally struggle greatly with the expectations from myself and others.
Being asked questions like, “Do you play hockey like your brother?” “Are you as smart as your brother?” or “Will you be head prefect like your brother?” can be rather daunting. That would be comparison, though, which is another speech entirely (also done by my brother). Whether it’s a sibling or someone else, most of us probably have someone we look up to who makes us think we need to live up to a standard.
Between this comparison and other expectations, it can seem like there are so many standards I have to live up to.
I feel that I must take certain classes, get certain grades, talk to certain people, achieve a certain level of success in my athletic pursuits… and the list goes on. To be honest, my choice to become a prefect was partially based on an expectation I wanted to fulfill.
Some of these, like becoming a prefect, are things I do want for myself. But others I just feel like I should be doing. They are all positive things, but not often enough do I stop and think if I really wanted them for myself. That is one question we must all ask ourselves before we get caught up in all the expectations: Is this something I want for myself, and is it worth spending my time on? Is this the kind of person I want to be?
Sometimes it can seem like your path is completely set in front of you – the world has determined who you must be, what you must do. But this simply is not the case. Believe it or not, YOU get to choose.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t listen to your parents’ or teachers’ advice. They’ve been here a little longer than you have. Like Farmers Insurance, they know a thing or two, because they’ve seen a thing or two. I don’t want anyone to leave here thinking, “Everyone expects me to study at 7:30 but I don’t want to, so I won’t!” NO.
What I’m saying is don’t be afraid to be who you want to be and to chase the goals you want to chase, no matter how silly or strange that may seem to other people. Only you can find where you’re truly meant to be. You will never reach true happiness and fulfillment by living your life for someone else.
As I approach my senior year, I am putting more and more emphasis on the things I want personally, like various arts, spending more time with people, and maybe even the school play. I would encourage you to do the same as you reflect on what truly brings you joy.
Now you’re probably expecting me to end this speech with a cheesy quote. And you would be right. Here is a quote by Steve Jobs that I found to be very insightful:
“When you grow up you tend to get told that the world is the way it is, and your life is just to live your life inside the world. Try not to bash into the walls too much. But life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it.”