Tierra Encantada

Friday, February 24, 2006

Expectations Part I

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lately, I’ve been thinking about expectations. What others expect of me, what I expect of myself, both professional and personal expectations. I guess what brought this up was a discussion with my parents and brother. My dad always wanted me to be a doctor. My mom isn’t that specific, but wants me to be out there changing the world and my brother just thinks I should be in a higher paying job. This discussion pops up every now and then and it always seems to start out with my dad asking, “why aren’t you a doctor?” I have the habit of dispensing medical or health related advice or giving a probable diagnosis of someone’s health problems based on information I’ve absorbed over the years and gut instinct. I’m pretty much always right despite my lack of formal medical training. I always respond to him with, “it doesn’t matter, you don’t take my advice anyway”, my brother will interject “well you don’t have an MD after your name!” I have to defend myself and say “well at least I didn’t waste the $100,000 on medical school when you’re going to ignore what I tell you anyway.” lol

My mom on more than one occasion has told me I am wasting my life in the career I’m in, given my potential. My dad is much gentler and says I have the potential to do anything. I’m the gifted child, with a genius IQ, who absorbs everything around me like a sponge. I have rarely had to work at anything to be successful at it. I’ve surely had an easier life than most people in this world. I realized how blessed I am; I don’t take anything for granted. I know that it could all change in a split second.

What happens to us when we fall short of the expectations of others or worse, our own expectations of ourselves? Frankly, my life has not turned out the way I imagined it would. Not that it’s a bad life, as I said I am incredibly blessed, it’s just different that what I imagined it would be. The things I thought I wanted turned out to be different than what I expected them to be. Life has a way of handing you disappointment and disillusionment sometimes or rearranging your priorities, for better or worse.

As a result of or in spite of all life’s surprises and lessons, I am quite happy at least 95% of the time. I suspect I am happier and more at peace than most people in this world. I think I’ve also put a lot more work into achieving those things than most people in this world. Oddly, I think that is the only thing I’ve ever really wanted that I’ve had to work hard for. I have achieved great success in terms of being truly happy and at peace. Surprisingly, I never expected happiness to matter. I grew up in the 80s; money was the measure of success and still is for most people.

It is hard, nevertheless, to feel like I am a disappointment to my family. If I didn’t have high self-esteem and confidence in my own abilities, I could have crumbled at hearing their opinions about my life, successes or lack thereof. We all want to make our parents proud. At the same time, however, we will not ever really be happy living our lives to meet someone else’s expectations.

If I fall short of my own expectations, it is in that I really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I have a career, but other than the financial security it provides, I could take or leave the work I actually do. I have learned a lot of different skills and have a broad range of useful knowledge, but I don’t love what I do. I envy those people that have a deep passion for something and follow that passion. I think those are the luckiest people. The decision is easy for them, they’ve found something they love to do and they pursue it, regardless of how much work or risk or struggle it may take to be successful. I have many interests, but no true passions, and I am certainly too indecisive to be able to focus my energies on even a handful of interests. Although I feel quite content being the jack-of-all-trades, I feel as if surely I must be missing something, having no real passion in my life.

For my family, the answer is easy, “just pick something.” Anything will do for the purpose of achieving more. But, I’m looking for passion. Unless I achieve that, it seems like a relative waste of time, money and energy; and it doesn’t get me closer to the goal of doing something I love for a living. So, the real question for me is, how do I find my passion?


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