What comes to mind for you when I say the word “expectations”? If you look it up, most of the definitions sound positive or at least neutral. A strong belief that something will happen. The belief that someone will or should achieve something. The state of looking forward to or waiting for something. Anticipation.
I bet those weren’t the first kind of expectations that came to mind for you, right? Me neither.
So, what about those other expectations? The ones that weigh heavily on our shoulders and often guide our choices or rebellions. We follow the paths set by our families and friends and society. Sometimes we look around and realize that we don’t know who we are.
Assessing the Situation
In a TED Talk by Bevy Smith, she describes Bitchy Bevy, a persona of her former self. She was strict and very hard to work for. She was successful in her fashion career but she was carrying stress and burnout and took it out on the people around her. Eventually, she realized that this person she was… wasn’t even her. It was a persona she’d created so that she could fit into the image of what she was expected to be. We’ve seen the movies. People in the fashion industry are sassy and mean, right? They’re not. That’s societal expectations. Bitchy Bevy had to go.
Her story really struck a chord with me because I’d gone through something similar myself. After several years of being an IT consultant in the corporate world, I barely recognized myself. I was really good at my job and ran a lot of successful projects. I solved more problems than you could even imagine and I helped a lot of people learn how to solve their own problems, too. But just like Bevy, I was meeting expectations of what my role dictated. By the time I realized it, I could only find small reflections of my real self in anything I was doing.
How to Begin Finding Yourself
If you’re in a similar situation, you may even feel like you don’t know what the authentic you looks like. You just know this is not it. Here are some questions to ask yourself. It’s best if you can write your answers down, reflect on it for a few days and revisit it to see if you’ve come up with new thoughts.
Who am I at my core?
Who was I at different ages in my life? At 16? At 25? At 40?
What are my personal values?
What are examples of times when I’ve made decisions that reflect my values?
How am I being perceived by my coworkers? My family? My friends?
How do I want to be perceived?
What things do I feel most misunderstood about?
When I look at my career, what are the moments in each role that I actually enjoyed?
Questions like these will help you uncover yourself. Once you’ve started getting to know your authentic self again, you can begin to ask questions about dreams and purpose and needs. These are the first steps on your journey to personal transformation.
My journey has brought me into this role as a women’s empowerment coach and I love my new life. If you get stuck or would just like some guidance, that’s what coaches do and I’d love to help. Send me a message on any social media or just go here to get a spot on my calendar to see if we’re a good fit to work together.