I have always been a ‘good girl’, a ‘hard worker’, ‘responsible’. I’m the girl who parents never worry about because she’s ’got her head screwed on straight’ and that friends call when they need help. And I like being that girl. I like thinking through things before I do anything, because I’ve only got once chance at this life and I want to do it right. I like being trusted and relied on and I like being able to be there for people.
The problem though with being this person, the good-girl-hard-worker-responsible girl, is that everyone in my life always expects me to act this way. During my teenage years this caused problems because I often didn’t feel like that girl who has always has it together. In fact, looking back, I realise part of the reason why I started smoking was as some way to express that I didn’t have it all together, that I wasn’t alright, that I didn’t feel like the responsible, hard worker everyone had me out to be – I caved under the pressure of everyone’s expectations as it were.
As I’ve grown up though I’ve realised that, truth be told, most of the time, I am that girl. It is just simply who I am. And I’ve learnt to accept and be comfortable with other people’s expectations of me as a result of that, after all, I did ‘train’ them into expecting that from me through my constantly being like that! What I didn’t realise though is that as much as I have always been aware of other people’s expectations of me, I haven’t been aware of my own expectations of myself.
I became aware of my own expectations of myself, and how much more powerful they are than anyone else’s expectations of me, after a break up with a long term boyfriend in University. I was devastated, broken, and angry, but at the same time I felt this amazing sense of freedom – like I could do whatever I wanted. And what I wanted to do was go out dancing, drinking, and flirting. Which I did. With the exception of the flirting. I felt like something was holding me back. It wasn’t my ex cause heaven’s knows he was doing his own flirting, and it certainly wasn’t my friends, so it had to be me.
But then I met the most handsome man in a black shirt that I had ever seen. He was beautiful and funny and cute and rugged and manly all at the same time, and he bought me a glass of red wine in a paper cup. And though I hardly knew him, all I wanted to do was…. But I wouldn’t let myself because I expected more of myself. I expected myself to get to know him first. I expected myself to make him prove first that he values and respects me before I did anything physical with him. I expected us to get an AIDS test first. In short I expected myself to be responsible and level headed about this anything-but-level-headed situation.
And then with a sudden bolt I put it all together and I realised that I was the ONLY one stopping myself. No one else was discouraging me (in fact they were encouraging me!) The only thing that was stopping me was me. Me and my own expectations of myself. And suddenly I was tired. Tired of always expecting the best of myself, tired of always being responsible, tired of always thinking things through. And I realised that while it’s good to be those things most of the time, it’s ok to not be those things some of the time. And so I set myself free, and I let the most handsome man in a black shirt ever kidnap me. And it was wonderful 🙂