How to Deal With Not Living Up to Your Family’s Expectations

How to Deal With Not Living Up to Your Family's Expectations

If you have any sort of parental figure in your life then you'll be able to relate to today’s topic: not living up to your family's expectations. While I'll mostly refer to parents, this could be anyone from your sibling to your great aunt overseas. We can all relate to the struggle of finding balance between what your family wants, what you want, what you’re capable of, and what you actually do. Your college years are probably where the impact of familial expectations can really start hitting hard, and over time it can have an enormous impact on your scholarly performance, and even on your mental health.

No matter what anyone tells you your priority should be, whether it's homework or nutrition or attending your cousin’s birthday, unless they tell you that your mental health comes first, they're wrong. You can never please everyone, and the more of yourself you give away to others, the emptier your life will be, and that's no way to live. Your number one priority is to take care of yourself.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you a story: when I was 10 years old, in fifth grade, I got in a spot of trouble at school. My parents and I were called in to meet with the Vice Principal and during the lengthy discussion the administrator asked, "Do you think you acted this way because your parents expect too much of you?" To which I replied, "No, my parents might expect a lot, but they only expect what they know I can handle." Now, pay attention: I would not say that today. And for a lot of you out there, I imagine that's the same case as well. I recently took a semester off school to sort out what I really wanted out of life, only to discover that I didn't even really love my major; in fact, it was causing immeasurable stress. The whole time my mother was calling me asking if I was back in school yet, when I was going to be returning, how I was going to get into law school if I wasn't taking classes, etc...

It took someone sitting me down and talking to me about it for me to realize something that changed my perception: What my mother wanted for me wasn't realistic. Think about that with me for a second. Recall the last time a friend or family member made you feel like they were asking you for something impossible. Consider this: It was. Sometimes the things people want for you aren’t accurate. What they want isn’t necessarily your desire, and you don't have to accept it as such!

Now, your family may or may not have your best interests at heart. I don't know your situation, so I can't say. As long as you are giving your all (and only you can know what your all really is) to something you truly believe in, whether it's something your family agrees with or not, you are living up to the only expectations anyone should ever have of you: to be your best self.