10 reasons to just be YOU and to ignore everyone else’s expectations

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Do you feel obligated to conform to other people’s expectations, regardless of whether it’s what you want?

If so, you’re probably here because you wish you didn’t.

If you’re looking for incentives to help you stop, we’ve got 10:

1. What works for them won’t necessarily work for you.

To phrase it simply, “Different strokes work for different folks”.

Other people may think their tried-and-true method will work for you because it’s always been effective for them, but that isn’t always the case.

You can try their method if you want to, but only if you sincerely feel like it could work, rather than because you’re a people-pleaser who feels obligated to indulge them.

If, however, you know for sure that their approach absolutely won’t work for you, don’t waste your precious time doing it.

2. You’ll destroy your self-worth.

Your sense of self—and by extension, your self-worth—shouldn’t depend on what other people want or expect of you.

When you try to conform to other people’s wants rather than what you know is best for you, your self-esteem takes a blow.

On a fundamental level, you’re telling yourself you aren’t good enough, strong enough, or smart enough to make decisions for yourself.

Instead, you defer to others’ judgment and acquiesce to their suggestions or demands, even if they’re the polar opposite of what you know you need or want.

Over time, not only will you resent them for ruling your life, but you’ll grow to despise yourself too, because you haven’t stood up for yourself and lived life on your own terms.

3. You’re being fake.

It isn’t just your self-esteem that suffers when you keep conforming to others’ expectations.

You end up going through life pretending to be something you’re not to make other people happy.

This is no way to live a life.

Living authentically and ignoring others’ expectations isn’t an easy path to walk. You do run the risk of not just upsetting and disappointing those around you, but potentially alienating them completely.

But unless you want to spend your life depressed, angry, and with only surface-level connections because you’re living by someone else’s wants, it’s a risk you’ll have to take.

4. They don’t truly know you.

People rarely see us for who we are. They see us through a lens of their interpretation.

As such, they often have expectations of us based on their view of who they think we are, rather than the reality.

They’re often not interested in helping us get to where we know we should be going and are instead fixated on how to get us where they think we should be.

As a trivial example, think of the friends who try to get you to watch films they enjoy, because by extension they assume you’ll love them too.

They can’t conceive of you having different perspectives than their own, because they see everything in the world through the lens of their own experience.

5. This is your life, not theirs.

A lot of people place expectations on others because they want to try and live vicariously through them.

For example, the mother who always wanted to be a ballerina may force her daughter into ballet classes, even though the daughter desperately wants to do street dance.

Then there are those who want you to like the same things as them, so you can enjoy them together.

Like someone who tries to get their partner into the same hobby or activity, and expresses disappointment and emotional blackmail when they aren’t interested.

Either way, this life is yours and it’s the only one you’ll get.

6. You lose yourself.

When I was growing up, I had classmates whose parents kept them very sheltered.

They were only able to watch certain films, and could only hang out with their cousins.

Their entire lives revolved around behaving as their elders expected them to, with severe punishments for stepping out of line.

Some people may think they’re doing you a favor by imposing their limitations on you. They’re trying to form you into what they feel is an ideal version of who you could be.

But as you might imagine, this type of behavior seriously inhibits personal growth. Because you can’t discover who you are if you’re always being told what you aren’t.

It’s like trying to determine what your favorite foods are when you’re only ever being fed porridge.

7. Other peoples’ goalposts may shift.

One common issue with conforming to other people’s expectations is that those expectations are prone to change without notice.

For example, you may do all the things that others want you to do, only to find that they’ve moved the goalposts without letting you know.

For example, you thought you’d be making them happy by getting on the honor roll at school, but all they say is, “Why aren’t you valedictorian?”.

Things get even trickier if their expectations are unspoken, and you seem to perpetually fall short of what they want because you never quite know what that is.

8. You can never keep everyone happy.

You may be in a situation where other people’s expectations conflict with each other. And by making one person happy, you’re disappointing another.

This can cause a crazy amount of stress and anxiety because you’re never sure how you should behave to keep those around you happy.

When you stop conforming to other people’s expectations, you lose a lot of the anxiety, stress, and misery that come with constantly trying to please everyone else at your own expense.

You’ll never be able to make everyone else happy, so focus on your fulfillment and well-being instead.

9. Their expectations may not be realistic.

When I was growing up, my pops wanted me to develop one skill and one skill only. However, by observing the job market, I learned that diversification was key.

It was unlikely I’d be working the same job for 40 years, which is what he experienced growing up.

Similarly, I have a friend whose Boomer parents told them if they want to get a job, they should show up at a company and ask to volunteer for their ‘typing pool’ on a trial basis.

Typing pools haven’t existed since the 1970s, so this kind of advice isn’t going to be helpful (and may get you escorted off the premises).

The people making these suggestions expect that things today work the same way they did decades ago, but that isn’t the reality.

It’s fine to listen to their advice, but don’t feel obligated to take it if you know the opposite is true.

10. You’re giving your power away.

It’s a lot easier to let other people do your thinking for you.

When you allow others to tell you what to think, how to behave, what to wear, whom to date, what to study, what to eat, and so on, you never have to worry about whether you’re making the ‘wrong’ decision.

You’ve basically given away your power in favor of the comfort of feeling like it’s not your fault if it all goes wrong.

Most of us learn the value of being good little boys and girls when we’re in school.

We get rewarded for giving the teacher the right answer, and we earn praise when we bring home perfect test scores and gold stars.

In contrast, being defiant or disobedient earns us condemnation and punishment, even if our reasons for it are completely valid.

If you find you’re going along with what other people expect of you because you don’t like the discomfort of confrontation, remember there’s one scenario in which people live their lives doing what they’re told without any type of personal input or freedom:

When they’re in prison.

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About The Author

Finn Robinson has spent the past few decades travelling the globe and honing his skills in bodywork, holistic health, and environmental stewardship. In his role as a personal trainer and fitness coach, he’s acted as an informal counselor to clients and friends alike, drawing upon his own life experience as well as his studies in both Eastern and Western philosophies. For him, every day is an opportunity to be of service to others in the hope of sowing seeds for a better world.