Humans live on expectations. I have expectations. You have expectations. And, in general, we always think we know what is best for others. There is always a piece of advice ready to be thrown at someone. Most of the times, we don’t need to listen to the full story; our expectations take care of it. We assume, or theorise about, how a story will unfold and we often end up frustrated, upset, feeling even betrayed if the story doesn’t follow the track we had expected. I would say that’s what happened recently with the end of Game of Thrones, and I do have to take my hat off to George Martin, probably one of the most loved and hated fiction writers of our time. He didn’t follow our expectations. He gave his characters the destiny he had always thought of. And yet, we still feel like we want to smack something and release the energy of a 10-year build-up of expectations.
We don’t do anything of this consciously. We might say we are conscious when we do such things, but we are not fully aware of what we are doing. Maybe consciousness is worthless without awareness. Maybe awareness is humanity’s holy grail. Either way, it seems we grow up to be expectants. Expectation comes from the union between ex and spectare, with ex meaning out and spectare meaning to look. Hence, exspectare means to look out for. Later in time though, to expect became synonymous of waiting. I think we can say we wait for something that comes or is outside of us. The problem here is that we don’t wait to see, we wait to confirm what we assumed to be right to happen. Some of us were waiting for Jon to be King and rule the seven kingdoms in Game of Thrones, but that’s not what George Martin had in mind.
The main reason why I take my hat off to George is that he probably couldn’t care less whether his decisions were, or not, well received by the fans of the series. Such attitude might be trivial for you, but I’m sure it’s something that didn’t go unnoticed by people pleasers or people who are always looking outside for answers. These are also the people who probably get the maddest when others don’t conform to their expectations. George Martin, seriously, how could you?! What a waste of time! Actually, it wasn’t a waste of time but a lesson we can all learn from: we can only have a sense of self when we express and voice who we are and what we want. Many of us are afraid of doing so because we don’t want to be rejected and left aside. In other words, we want to feel loved, an experience we associate with being seen, heard, respected and accepted by others. When we are not aware, that’s how we function – we expect rather than live.
We expect that our sense of self will be validated by others if they love us. And we want to be loved so hard by others that we are even willing to sacrifice our own self-respect, self-acceptance, and self-love for it. Love doesn’t work that way though and we know that when we become aware. So I don’t think we really want to be loved… we just wrongly assume that other people’s love means we finally have the right to be. For instances, what happens when others don’t love us? We feel worthless. We feel like we don’t matter. We feel like life has no meaning. We may have the most beautiful dreams and plans to change ourselves and the world, but our actions lose power because we don’t feel we are loved and, most of all, we don’t feel we have the right to be and act as we are. We end up sacrificing our being in the name of expectations, including our own, because we think that’s the only way we can be loved and thus win the right to be.
I’m convinced that my lack of energy, health, and wellbeing has been a consequence of this inhuman way of being and living. In life, we do have to make sacrifices, but we are not supposed to live in sacrifice all the time. George Martin could give us the end we wanted, but then it wouldn’t be his story anymore. It would be our story… not his. I feel I haven’t lived up to my story. I have been disconnected from it, and I’ve rarely asked myself what I truly want. I’ve looked for applauses rather than happiness. I have been afraid of being different. Maybe not totally, but to a great extent. Many women and men have. I have been manipulated and I have manipulated others; that’s how we play the expectations game, a game I don’t want to keep playing.
We all have the right to be. We don’t need to do, be, and think more, or harder, in order to grow, become a better version of ourselves, or simply gain access to the good people’s group. I think this is a common mistake we do once we start being interested in personal growth and development. We assume we need to achieve a set of goals that are already outlined by something or someone outside of ourselves. This is how we become slaves of expectations and how we trap others in the same loop. This is how we learn to say ‘yes’ when we want to say ‘no’. This is how we disconnect from ourselves and how we become used to a life that is empty of meaning. The challenge for me now is to be the writer of my story regardless of what other people want, and to avoid controlling or manipulating other people’s story.