Everyone expects something of you. Your parents, your friends, your significant other, your coworkers – society in general.
Your parents expect (and hope) that you’ll be happy and successful. Your friends expect you to be a good friend; to be there when they need you. Your significant other expects you to spend time with them and be a loving, supportive partner. Your coworkers expect you to do your job and always be willing to help. Society expects you to be a productive force in the world.
You know, standard stuff.
It’s really odd, though, how people’s expectations of you can be very different. And how you have to sort of figure out if their expectations of you are really your expectations, or if you’ve just let them become your expectations because you care more about making someone else happy than you do about making yourself happy.
Once upon a time in another life (as you’re probably aware if you’ve read some of my other blogs) I almost got married. And everyone I knew was so happy for me, and so thrilled with the relationship and the happy little plan to get married after graduation and move to wherever he ended up going to graduate school. My life was mapped out. There was a wedding binder. A really f*cking huge wedding binder.
There was really only one person in my life who seemed somewhat disappointed that I’d fit myself into a neat little roll in society. Who expected “more” from me, when in general I was meeting the expectations of everyone else. And that bugged me. It bugged me a lot. And I tried to justify myself, even though there was no need to do so. I continued to try to justify myself (if only in my head) even after it was pointed out to me that I wasn’t writing anymore, and I used to write all the time.
And then suddenly I felt like Allie in The Notebook when Noah asks her if she still paints now that she’s engaged to some absurdly good-looking man, and she says that she doesn’t, and then it’s the whole sad symbolic moment and it’s like “Oh how tragic, her creative soul is dead.”
And then I felt seriously pathetic for thinking of that. But I digress.
The point is that I was meeting (and exceeding) everyone’s expectations. Except this one damn kid. And I don’t think it would have bothered me if he’d been wrong – if I really was happy to just float away and be a wife and have the picket fence and the kids and the house.
But I wanted more than that – I’d just forgotten. And then the whole wedding thing didn’t happen, and then I was writing again, and then I started to remember all of the things I had wanted to do that, for two years of my life, took a back seat. And then I hated the fact that he’d been right all along, but at the same time I felt like I owed him a little bit. Because we all have expectations of the people in our lives, and he expected more from me, in an off-beat kind of way, than everyone else did. And it’s not as though anyone let me down. They saw me happy, and that’s what they wanted for me, the same way I want happiness for them. It’s just that I was the wrong kind of happy, and didn’t even realize it.
The point is that everyone has expectations of you – the important thing is not to settle just because you’ve met them. Because meeting the expectations of everyone else doesn’t always mean meeting your expectations of yourself.
There are certain types of people who just aren’t quite made to fit into the world. People who, for whatever reason, can’t or won’t go along with the whole shebang. I mean all of it and any of it - the whole idea of what life is supposed to be. They don’t want it.
These are the people who inevitably fascinate me. People who don’t fit, and you always sort of know that they aren’t made for this world, and might not even last very long in it. Unique in the purest sense, I suppose, because they really are rare.
I’m sure a lot of these people go about their lives under the radar. They don’t fit, they know they don’t fit, and so they do things their own way without anyone else ever really taking note of it, except the ones who know them. I should say the ones lucky enough to know them, because when you meet someone like that, you’re completely aware that you’re in the presence of something different. There’s no need to treat it with reverence, or see it as something better than whatever you have or whatever you are - just be aware of it. Because chances are you won’t find a person like that more than once or twice in your entire lifetime.
There are the Edie Sedgwicks, Hunter S. Thompsons, and Jack Kerouacs of the world of course. People who blazed into the world like a fire cracker and shot across the cultural sky just long enough to change everything, before inevitably being extinguished. People you know (or should know), who wrote brilliant things and did brilliant things, but never thought of it as brilliant because it’s just how their brains worked. People who it almost seems wrong to think of as something so different and incredible, because they themselves would resent it. Different? No. Just me being me. Which always sort of stuns me personally, because I can’t imagine any version of my self ever being so singularly fascinating. I could try, of course, but the whole point of these people is that they didn’t try to be who they were. They just were.
I hesitate to say that they are are my heros, because to look at it objectively their lives were messes. And they didn’t function in society in a normal way. But damn, they were brilliant. And I think that kind of mind just can’t function in society normally because it doesn’t work the same as other minds. Which is good. We need those kinds of people. Sometimes I wish I was that kind of person, or wonder if I could be if I let myself. How many of us have that in us, but ignore it and try instead to be some version of normal that we at least half way believe will make us happy? And maybe it will make us happy, in the end. Which is great. But there is more than one kind of happiness.