What Do Others Expect of You?
I was hanging out with some of my friends recently when the conversation turned to meeting the expectations of others.
One friend said, “I’ve always been told I am smart, so I feel like I have to be the smartest person in the room. When I was in school I worked so hard on my studies that I didn’t take the time to develop many relationships. I wish I had done that differently.”
Another friend chimed in. “For me, it’s being nice. Everyone has always told me I’m so nice. It makes me feel bad when I have feelings that aren’t all smiles and sunshine toward someone else.”
I added my two cents. “For me, it’s being funny. I’ve always been the person who makes other people laugh. For a long time I felt like I always had to be ‘on.’ If I wasn’t being loud and funny, I didn’t think people would like me. I didn’t feel like I had the freedom to be serious.”
Can you relate? Do you ever feel like people expect you to act a certain way, excel in a specific area or perform well at a set task? If so, you’re not alone. A whopping 95% of the girls we interviewed for “Lies Young Women Believe” told us that they struggle with tying their worth to the expectations of others. (I wonder if the remaining 5% didn’t admit their feelings because they were worried about how we expected them to respond.)
Dealing with the expectations of others can be really tough. I wish I could give you a bulleted list of tried and true ways to find freedom in this area. I can’t. It’s not as easy as simply deciding not to listen to the opinions of others. In many cases, it is good for your parents, teachers and youth workers to expect a lot from you. We tend to rise to the expectations of others and a little push now and then to work harder, train more, or study just a little longer can go a long way. Because of that, it’s not wise to simply decide to ignore the expectations of others. But a problem arises when you let others define you, when you feel totally stressed out by the effort required to meet others’ expectations, or when you think you have to act a certain way in order to be loved and accepted.
I wish I could say that the insecurity caused by the expectations of others is something you will grow out of. It probably isn’t. I know women of all ages who are in serious bondage because of trying to please others.
If you can’t just ignore the voices around you and there’s no hope of outgrowing the pressure to please others, what is the answer? I’m so glad you asked. Our only hope is to realize that our value is not determined by what we do or who we are or even how others see us, but simply by how God views us.
Here’s just a taste of what He says about you:
- I chose you before the world was created (Ephesians 1:4)
- I made every part of you and I call you wonderful (Psalm 139:14)
- I loved you before you could love me back (1 John 4:9)
- I loved you enough to die for you (John 3:16)
- I have always loved you and will always love you (Psalm 103:17).
- Others may reject you, but I will not (Psalm 27:10).
The next time you are tempted to let the expectations of others define you, give yourself a heavy dose of Truth! God loves you deeply. That has always been true and will always be true. Study His Word and learn His expectations for your life. Let Him define who you are.
With a little work, it is possible to experience freedom in this area. You can take this funny girl’s word for it.