Releasing The Weight of Expectation
Updated: Apr 22, 2022
I began working full-time for my husband's family when I was only nineteen years old. At the time, my soon-to-be in-laws were entrepreneurs who owned five restaurants. I was still in college and in the midst of a major identity crisis.
A habitual overachiever, I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in only three years. But the problem was that I had no idea who I was or what I wanted to do with my life. I was smart and had a great attention to detail, so when my husband's parents offered me a job with a good salary and health insurance, I said, yes.
Ever since I had known him, my husband was convinced he would follow in his parents’ footsteps. He wanted to be a third-generation restaurant owner. He used to joke, “I can’t help it. I was born with ketchup in my veins.”
As much as I tried to manifest the ketchup in my own veins, it just wasn’t there. But I’d pretend for nearly a decade that I loved this work, convincing everyone that I was happy and living life to the fullest.
The hamster wheel
Just like I had been conditioned to do, I stayed busy, kept silent and immersed myself in my work and home. I had watched my parents my entire life run around the same hamster wheel day after day; wake up, go to work, come home, make dinner, do chores, go to bed, and then do it all over again the next day.
There is an expectation in our society that you must choose a career path before you’re even an adult, commit your whole life to mastering your trade and then never look back. In my family, there was a further expectation to find a good husband, get married and have children as soon as possible. It was as if the sooner I conformed to this expectation, the sooner I could reach fulfillment and success.
Never one to disappoint, I played out these roles and expectations perfectly. I was really... and, I mean, REALLY good at playing my part and not disappointing anyone's expectations of me. On paper, I had it all before my 21st birthday. The 3-bedroom house, the perfect fiancé, the cute dog, a secure job, a brand-new car, a designer purse, a wardrobe full of name brand clothing, and a salary with benefits. You name it, I had it.
But I didn’t have it. Deep down, I was absolutely, undeniably miserable. My heart and soul felt broken because I was not living my life in alignment with who I truly was. I felt trapped and like I was constantly running on this hamster wheel of expectation with no way to get off.
Programming at the Moment of Birth
From the very second that we are born we become weighed down by the weight of expectation from our family, church, culture, society, government and community. Each of these outer aspects, place some form of expectation on us. As a result of these expectations, we’re programmed to act, speak and behave in a certain manner in order to not disappoint. Anyone who doesn’t comply to these standards is usually rejected and shunned from society as a weirdo, an outcast or a failure.
As infants, we are born whole and pure, fully tapped into our Soul’s highest potential. Every child is born deeply connected without any veil of illusion or density. But, soon after, and usually within seconds of being born, we’re taught what to believe and how we’re expected to show up in the World. It only gets worse and more intense as we age.
All of these beliefs, patterns, social norms and other inherited conditioning starts to build a hard shell around our heart. Layer by layer, we become closed off from our Divine connection to our Higher Selves. Our life purpose and our Soul’s highest possible trajectory for this lifetime are lost to us, forgotten in the layers of illusion and programmed beliefs.
When the culture in which we’re born upon conditions us in such a way, we become almost entirely disconnected from Spirit and God. We lose ourselves and our connection to our inner compass. The result is usually devastating.
The only way to undo such toxic programming is by learning to peel back each and every layer, one at a time. The layers are filled with conditioning, deceit, inauthenticity, hypocrisy, old habits, destructive patterns, and misguided thoughts.
One of our greatest challenges in our life, is to find a way to exist in the world without disempowering expectations and conditions. We do that by expanding our awareness and increasing the ways in which we can stay awake to societal patterns, programs and manipulation.
We each must learn discernment; the ability to think and make decisions without the opinions of others. We need to be able to look at our life with an open and flexible mindset and decide which programs and conditions are right for us and which ones have taken our power away.
If you continue to do what is expected of you, rather than listening to what your heart is truly longing for, you’ll lose your integrity and authenticity. If you spend your whole life choosing the safety and ease of the hamster wheel, you’ll completely deplete yourself. Every single time.
The Freedom of Un-programming
During this period of my life, I mentioned I felt like I was on a hamster wheel. A big, ol’ boring, rusty hamster wheel known as the wheel of expectation. I didn’t know when or if I’d ever be able to jump off of it.
Looking back now, I can see how I was so deeply conditioned. I believed that it was unsafe to follow my heart’s deepest longings. I feared that I’d lose my friends and family if I dared to try something completely unconventional or new. I was afraid of trying and also of failing. I was afraid of disappointing the people I loved the most. I inherited beliefs that made me feel like it was unsafe to be seen. It felt unsafe to speak up or to follow my truth .
If I had the freedom to choose a different life, I was programmed to believe otherwise. Fortunately, I slowly and surely learned how to let go and release all of these outdated programs that were holding me back and keeping me stuck in this continuous cycle. I started to see all of the ways in which old thoughts and beliefs no longer fit with the person I was becoming.
If I wanted to be happy and follow my heart’s deepest calling, I’d have to purge every expectation that no longer fit. I’d have to rewrite everything that I had ever known to be true about myself and my World.