People & Inspiration

Daily Diaries: I Used To Live Up To Other People’s Expectations, Here Are 3 Things I’ve Learned

Daily Diaries: I Used To Live Up To Other People’s Expectations, Here Are 3 Things I’ve Learned


By Angeline Cheng

When I look back and reminisce the happenings and decisions in my life that were not influenced by other people’s expectations, my ten fingers would be more than sufficient. I molded myself to live my life according to what other people has to say, and it has become my foundation and support in becoming the person that I didn’t actually want to be, which made me weaker and more opinion-reliant than ever.

It also has taken a direct impact on my self-esteem, that's why I’m struggling to make self-made decisions ever since. But now, after so many tiring years of this torture I am enduring, I finally woke up and learned a lot from the experience. Here's what I realized:

1. When you always think of what other people would say, you will never truly be happy.

I was such a people-pleaser, and I always thought of what other people would have to say when I did certain things. I always wanted them to be proud and impressed of my accomplishments, and I was always hungry for their seal of approval in everything that I did.

But looking back now, I realized that at those countless times of short-lived praises and supposedly comforting pats on the back, I was never truly satisfied. I was too busy minding what other people would think about my work and attitude that I didn't have the time to really ponder on where and what I actually wanted to be. Yes, all those expectations pushed me to always do my best and reap the fruits of all my hard work, but in the end, those expectations were also what led me to some of my deepest regrets.

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2. When you become a soldier of other people’s “perfect” expectations, you deny yourself from becoming more than you can be.

One of the things that I regret most about becoming other people’s “ideal” person is that I forgot to stand on my own feet, make meaningful mistakes, and suffer vital downfalls. I was too focused on being the perfect person in their fault-finding eyes when, in fact, perfection doesn’t really exist. Had I not succumbed myself to what they had to say about me, made critical mistakes, and lived my life without their filter, then maybe I have become a stronger, more resilient person than who I am today. And maybe, just maybe, I have become the exact person I wanted to be in the first place.

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3. Those people who truly care for you will always support you in whatever you want to do in life.

My family, my friends, my special someone… All of them have their individual expectations of me. They love me, and, of course they only want what’s best for me. At times, some of those “best” things they have in mind align with what I want in life, while some are the exact opposite. But no matter how different their expectations may be compared to what I desire, they always choose to support me no matter what.

I realized that if people truly love and care for you, they wouldn’t impose something that they know you wouldn’t like, even if that’s what they think would be the best. As long as you wouldn’t be put on danger and as long as you wouldn’t hurt anybody, you are free to choose who you want to become, and only selfish people would hamper you in doing so.

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A good friend and great mentor once told me, “Choose your battles wisely, because you can’t fight it all,” and I realized that when you know what’s worth fighting for, what’s worth stressing yourself out for, then it will change your perspective on the expectations you have been torturing yourself with. I realized that my focus should be only on those opinions that matter, and those are the opinions of my loved ones and my truest friends.

After so many years of putting so much value on the expectations of other people only did I grasp that when you know where to focus your energy on, when you acknowledge the fact that people would always have something to say and most of it are frivolous anyway, and when you start living your life for you, then that’s the only time you can be genuinely free and happy.

RELATED: Daily Diaries: Here’s How You Can Manage Your Unmet Expectations In Your Student Life




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