We use the words ‘Oh, I’m sorry’ like it’s some sort of linguistic bandaid that excuses the fact that we are human to other human beings. -Erika Napoletano
I have a problem with living up to other people’s expectations. I’m not sure when this started, but I can definitely pinpoint a few occasions where I found myself asking this hard question: To disappoint myself or to disappoint others’ expectations?
Example. Weddings. Ugh. I loved my wedding. But mostly because I was marrying the man of my dreams. Not because of the wedding itself.
Like my post from last week, weddings are just another one of those topics where there are a million people preaching etiquette and arguing over the “right” way to do everything.
I won’t launch into all the details of everything I wouldn’t have done had they not been expected, but I will say that ideally, after the beautiful church ceremony, I would have hopped straight to our little farmette and its 5 acres of land to have a fun, casual, yet beautiful backyard reception with barbeque yummy goodness, great music, and a giant bonfire.
Instead, I lived on a diet of wine and ice cream everyday for a month before the wedding to relieve the stress and tension that came from trying to please everyone and live up to expected wedding etiquette. I absolutely do not believe that that’s what weddings should be about, but I felt obligated; I felt huge pressure not to disappoint anyone, and to this day I wish I’d listened more to my own wishes… I wish I’d been more honest.
From a very early age, we are taught to turn down that honesty knob and turn up the one on polite, and it’s no wonder that by the time we get to be adults, we can’t honestly tell anyone around us who we are, what we love, and what we’re feeling.
Obviously, it’s an issue that goes so much deeper than mere wedding etiquette. It’s an issue that resonates in every aspect of our lives. And I think it goes hand in hand with authenticity, which I’ve written about struggling to achieve before.
I think this second step of being authentic is harder. Being honest about who you are can often be more challenging than defining who you are in the first place. I, personally, don’t want to offend or upset anyone, especially people who have surrounded me with such amazing generosity (i.e. those wedding guests), but I also don’t want to spend my life worrying about living up to expectations that don’t align with my own.
I guess the ultimate question, then, is where to draw that line?