Whose expectations should we satisfy?

Can one person really empower another? (basically, be given permission to use what Is already ours).

All the happiest people I know enjoy what they do. They have dreams and follow those dreams to build a satisfying and happy life. Their lives are based around their expectations not the expectations of their families or society or their peer group.

Most happy people understand that we all have an inherent power within us. It’s what makes us tick, get up in the morning to do the things we want to do, and the things that we know we should do, but don’t particularly want to do. It’s the glow within our soul. If you want to be a doctor, go and be a doctor, you want to be a beach bum and hang out with Avant Garde people in a jazz bar and philosophise just do it.  It’s your right, as long as your actions aren’t hurting anyone and it’s not illegal. Who has the right to tell you it’s not alright to do those things or has the right to say “you know what, I empower you. I’ll allow you to use your inner power to follow your dreams, go where your heart takes you.” Wow thanks that is so gracious of you. The unhappy people are those stuck on the treadmill of life doing what their family, their peer group or society expects of them. They spend their lives trying to make others happy and lose themselves!

What about my expectations for me!?

I spent the first 40 years of my life trying to live up to the expectations of:

  1. ParentsMy mother pushed me towards further education because that is what she wanted to do when she was young, and I wasn’t interested in living her dreams for her which caused conflict between us almost until the day she died. As a teenager I rebelled against her and at the age of 17 I joined the Army as a means to get away from home.
  2. Peer Pressure. Joining the Army was a good time initially and I progressed well, however I eventually followed a career path that I didn’t really want to. This was due to peer pressure which said, “To be considered a success you must follow this career path.” That was success in their minds not mine. I should be allowed to judge my own success on my terms, what I view as successful in my life others may not deem so. Who is to say that to be successful in life you must accumulate wealth and attain social status, but that being happy and having a great home life is not.
  3. Spousal pressure. I’m sure there are many people that follow paths in their life because their spouse enjoys the lifestyle, wealth or status that certain careers provide. I know I did!  However, when you work hard to attain success to make somebody else happy you remain unfulfilled yourself and that can lead to conflicts with your spouse. If your spouse doesn’t support what you want to do because they want something different in life, then maybe you are not with the right person.
  4. Society. Society places many expectations on us from a very young age, in England certain schools are teaching children as young as nine years old how to set career and life goals, when really, they should just be allowed to be children. We are expected to go out to work, build a career, earn money, get married, have children, buy a house and work until we are into the twilight of our lives. If an individual doesn’t see that plan as very appealing society looks down on them. If your dream is to live self sufficiently on a tropical island, have a vegetable patch, fishing line and a partner why should you be called a social pariah?

My life improved beyond all recognition when I realised I had really never done anything in my life purely because it was what I wanted to do. I had never followed my dreams but had always worked hard to help others achieve theirs! This realisation led me on a different path, one that I chose and in the process of doing this I ended up with an amazing woman who had her own dreams that didn’t require me to change mine. They were complimentary to each other. We both wanted to be happy, a simple dream but surely if you dream of total happiness in every facet of your life you can’t be wrong. If everybody lived their lives in pursuit of happiness, we would all end up in the perfect career in the ideal place with the right person.

David Whatman is an ex-serviceman and former business owner who is just about to have his first thriller published. He is currently working on a second thriller and a love story. In between times he is writing an autobiographical book on the far-reaching consequences of childhood abuse combined with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) and is exploring opportunities to speak publicly about the subject and raise the profile and understanding of it. Now living in Southern Spain.

Image courtesy of frank mckenna.