The thing they never tell you about growing up is that it’s heavy with expectation. And as I often say, dear reader it’s in the little things.

  • The slight disapproval of certain activities you enjoy and encouragement towards an activity your parents think would be great for you.
  • Being told “as long as you’re happy I’m happy”, yet having no qualms about forcefully sharing their opinion even if it might sway you, especially if it might sway you.
  • Saying about your significant other, I think they’re great, just maybe not great for you.
  • Telling you, if you don’t do this, it’s not a real graduation/wedding/party/etc

Family, friends, and loved ones expect that you’ll do things a certain way. That you’ll go to this college, live in these places, date these kind of people, all at certain ages. Of course some expectations we desire to satisfy such as walking across the stage to get our diploma, having kids, living in the same city our parents grew up in. Sometimes though we have our own reasons for not wanting to fulfill those expectations, and in some cases fulfilling expectations would go against who we are. So how do we handle expectations being placed on us that we simply can’t follow through with? Being in my early twenties in the depths of wedding planning I’ve found myself quite sideswiped by expectations at times, here are a few things that have helped me.

  1. Be honest. Often the hardest thing to do, but honesty is still the best policy. Being upfront that you cannot follow through with an expectation saves a lot of trouble. It might be hard to tell your family that your not going to their alum, but it will be even harder to suffer through a school you don’t want to be at for four years.
  2. Pray. Some things are beyond are strength. To be frank, I think most of the harshness of life is beyond human ability, but especially when you are facing the backlash, anger, and fury over you standing up to expectations, the best thing you can do is pray and seek His face, He will never leave you nor forsake you.
  3. Compromise. In many cases it’s a matter of standing firm and saying, no I can’t do what you need me to do, sometimes though rather than saying, I don’t want to wear the big fancy ball gown, it’s better to say, I don’t want to wear a big fancy ball gown, but you could help me shop for a gown that I’m more comfortable with. So maybe they don’t see you in the dress of their dreams, but they help you pick out an option, making them feel included, which was the real point anyway.
  4. Do it Anyway. What? You might be thinking, I don’t want to fit into this expectation, why would I do it. The truth: because you love them. This goes along with choosing your battles. In wedding planning there’s a lot of little things that you find people care a lot about and I’ve had to choose what actually matters. That I wear a dress that I like and am comfortable in. Important. That the dresses match the flowers. Not so much. But for some that matters, that makes it important to me so I do what needs to be done to make it happen. This might not work for college decisions, but it might make sense for taking photos at your graduation, or letting your mom buy you those special linens she always dreamed of sending you off to school with (even if you think they’re kind of hideous), because when you have to choose your battles love should always win.

Expectations can be a heavy burden. This time of life might find you exhausted with grappling through what your friends and family expect of you. Take a deep breath. Take it one moment at a time. Be honest, pray, compromise, and sometimes, do it anyway, because you love them and that’s what this life is all about. You’ll fulfill some expectations, others will be lost; what really counts though is that you are true to yourself and who God created you to be. And if that expectation is being meant, that’s good enough.


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