The problems with unrealistic expectations (and why you need to put yourself out there anyway)

One of the hardest things to navigate is other people’s expectations of who or what you are supposed to be.

And the surprising ideals, assumptions and narratives that get placed upon you.

With today’s technology we are all susceptible to it. Especially if you’re doing any online dating, or using meetup groups or other online platforms to make new friends.

Or if you are creating content or working in a public or artistic capacity.

To be honest, it’s one of the hardest parts of my work as a small business owner, and I know other entrepreneurs can relate.

Sometimes people who avidly read my newsletters expect me to talk the same way I write.

Except my writing voice and my talking voice don’t match up. They have different sounds and rhythms. There are a lot more “ums” and “ahs” in real life than there are in an email, more pauses to gather thoughts or listen for a response.

And so I’m left feeling as though I disappointed someone. Didn’t live up to their expectations. Didn’t match the image they held of me for all those weeks or months of reading along.

Sometimes people are surprised I have a sense of humour. They expect me to be stoic, deeply serious. But laughter is so important to me, and makes life a little less heavy sometimes.

Plus, it’s one thing to take your work seriously, but once you start taking yourself too seriously you’re at risk of losing the chance to laugh now and again.

Sometimes people feel so familiar with me they write to me to ask if I will come over to their house to read tarot for them. Or meet them at a bar for a reading after work.

They forget that while they may feel they already know me because they follow me online, I have no idea who they are at all.

We have never met, yet they want to give me their home address and let me into their private life without even knowing who I really am. (For the record, I don’t do house calls and don’t meet in random places – it’s not safe.)

Sometimes people get upset with me for not speaking to their exact situation in a piece of writing: “Don’t you know I can’t afford to do that? Can’t relate to that? Can’t understand that?” 

Well no, actually, I don’t know. I present options. I sometimes sell my offerings because I assume that if you are here, enjoying my writing, then you may enjoy working with me in some capacity.

I may muse here, make suggestions, offer ideas or questions. But never do I assume I know exactly what everyone needs, wants, or is capable of at any given time.

I also don’t aim to speak for anyone but myself.

I have always written because I figure that if I have a question, feeling or experience, then someone must be going through the same thing. 

I figure that if I am inspired to share something, someone else will be inspired by it, too.

It can be challenging to put yourself out there when you feel like you’re being held to unspoken expectations: “What if I disappoint someone? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m too much?”

But here’s the thing: No one can be all things to all people.

Technology is bringing us together, but it’s also pulling us apart. It is making us forget that everyone is human, and that we may only be able to see one aspect of someone through what they share online.

To be able to embrace how someone shows up in a conversation, face to face, eye to eye, is what really matters.

You might not be able to live up to everyone’s ideal impression of you. But you know what? You don’t have to.

The work of answering a calling is to be able to continue to be true to who you are, even when it hurts to do that. Because sometimes being real will lead to rejection. Or the loss of an opportunity. Or a missed connection that you hoped would work out.

But what hurts more is pushing your true self under the surface. Conforming and re-shaping yourself for people who aren’t willing to take the time to embrace all sides of you.

The world needs authenticity more than ever. It needs the reminder that we are (only) human, and that projections are not reality.

And the best way to get that message out there is to keep doing the work you want to do. To keep making your art, sharing your voice, pursuing your passions, and committing to your spiritual calling.

Keep going.

Until next time,

Liz xo   

p.s. If you are struggling to trust in your path or want to learn how to hear your calling, I open my schedule for a select number of private readings each month. Work with me here.

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