People want you to be who they think you are. I think of the straightjacket we all wear when we try to live up to (or down to) the expectations of the people in our lives. We waste so much energy trying to be who they want us to be and act the way they want us to act.
I’ll admit that I have never been good at shaking free of this stuff. Of telling people to fuck off. Instead, I’ve spent much of my life trying to please others. My family, people at work, men… Maybe even you, my readers. It’s just something that I do, as second nature. Try to be the person that people think I am (or want me to be).
I’ve done this too, of course, in terms of having expectations of others. Sometimes it seems unavoidable to me:
1.) a friend who is one of the most talented musicians I’ve ever known, and who has a serious drug problem that keeps him from doing anything with his talent.
2.) a friend whose self-doubt keeps her from ever pursuing anything, as she convinces herself she will fail, so she never really tries
3.) a computer programmer of rare talents who alienates everyone by his tendency to argue about everything — he is unable to get the help he needs on his projects, because he drives everyone away
4.) a man who inherited millions and had the chance to build a successful startup, but who instead spent all of the money on a long series of failed ideas — he never stuck with any one idea long enough for it to do well. The nearest he came to success was when his girlfriend insisted they build a web site focused on the yoga community. This was an instant hit, and he was so bitter that his girlfriend had an idea more successful than his, that he sabotage the project.
I’ve a number of friends who are very talented. I want to see them do well. Many of them have some internal block that keeps them from moving forward. I do not wish to burden them with my expectations of them, and yet, I find it difficult not to think about how amazing they are, and how they undermine themselves.