🙉 Letter 137: My Letter to Expectations
Stop shoulding on yourself & my sister visiting
If you are new here or missed last week's edition, you can catch up on the past letters here. If you are reading this for the first time, I’d love you to sign up below to join the other 488 learn-it-alls:
Aloha fellow learn-it-all 👋
Greetings from the seat of my moped Qiao in Honolulu, Hawai'i on the island of O’ahu 🌺
I’ve been driving this fella here since August 2021. I bought him without ever even knowing how to drive a moped. I feel like that is a metaphor for much of my life. Wanting to understand things without really knowing how yet (emphasis on the ‘yet’). All it takes is shifting your attitude to being open and learning. I truly believe learning is the antidote to my life.
This week I’ve been “talking” to my expectations. It’s been a timely topic especially as the new year is upon us where goals and planning are starting to stir. I’m so excited to share this letter with you and hope to provoke further conversation.
Now, let’s dive into letter 137 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!
❓ Question to think about
If I was sitting at a dining room table with my Expectations what would I say to them?
Stop shoulding on me!
I am doing the best that I can. And I want you to see that I am enough.
Yes, I get it. There are a lot of things I should be doing.
I should be already promoted at some prestigious muckety muck firm. I should already have found my soulmate and be getting married to them. I should have enough savings to buy a house. I should have rock-solid abs. I should have flawless tan skin from my stress-free life. I should be getting amazing sleep.
Expectations, you keep shaking the soda can so much and are adding too much pressure to the pop. I’m gonna blow!
I’m not here on this planet to please these stories that you are brainwashed to believe are the only way. I know these pressurized thoughts and goals are not created by all your own doing. They’ve been handed down from culture, society, and comparisons. They creep in through a backdoor without your permission masked in the word “should”. Just because they were put onto your plate and then transferred onto mine does not mean they need to be internalized as my responsibility to please.
I am me, and I have my own unique path that I am venturing down.
You, Expectations, are the reason I had my quarter-life crisis and decided to rebel and pick up my life and move to Hawaii in the first place. I realize now there are many other ways than the path that my parents traversed where they lived a more linear-looking life in Michigan after meeting when they were 25.
Rebelling against you, Expectations, makes me exhausted. I know that more of you will always arise. It is unrealistic to assume otherwise as my environment inevitably plants more of your seeds. You are either front row dictating my life or on timeout in the corner with the dunce hat on as I lead it myself.
I am not doing those things. But you know what, Expectations? You’ll never guess what I’m doing instead.
I am living out my dream on a beautiful island. I am empowering a small Hawaiian shave ice business into a mindful journaling community. I am single and figuring out how to love myself. I am investing in the now to better support my future self. I am fit and healthy despite being in the largest pants size I’ve ever been. I am a shiny-skinned person because it is humid and hot here in Hawaii so, yeah, I do have pimples. I am sleeping fairly well most nights, listening to my body, and waking up with the sun every morning.
I am becoming emotionally available and open to the world and the potential prospects of serendipitous opportunities and life partners in it.
I am living my life.
Now, your voice sounds like mere whispers, instead of a blasting megaphone like when I was in college. I’ve made progress against comparing myself to everyone on a similar-looking trajectory. But your voice still slips in from time to time, disguised as fear calling me an impostor for living life the way that I do.
I want to stop feeling like I have to choose between being a rebel going against the grain, or just one of the pack — like an obedient lemming jumping off a cliff matching the status quo. Can we get to a place where I don’t have to feel like this?
While working with you, Expectations, life is more motivating, exciting, and quite frankly, flourishing. You propel me to make things possible that I could never fathom. I know partnering together is not easy and life is inevitably more challenging as you get hijacked by the external, and fantasy, worlds. I want to recognize what is in our control and what is not then re-evaluate based on that. I will probably come short time and time again, but with your support, I want to set real expectations for me.
I am ready to be partners and at peace. Expectations, can we call a truce?
A recovering people pleaser
🔎 Word to define
Expect: To wait for; to await.
To look for (mentally); to look forward to, as to something that is believed to be about to happen or come; to have a previous apprehension of, whether of good or evil; to look for with some confidence; to anticipate; -- often followed by an infinitive, sometimes by a clause (with, or without, that)
🌟 Quotes to inspire
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” -Bruce Lee
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” - Steve Jobs
📷 Photos of the Week
I am beyond blessed to have convinced my sister to hop on a plane to come out to O’ahu for the first time. From the moment I lei’d her at the airport with a fragrant ginger flower necklace, I felt more at home.
It’s crazy how that can happen.
The mere presence of someone allows you to feel belonging in this lonely world. I’m so excited to go on adventures with her. Her love language is quality time, through and through. I used to feel pressure to teach her everything from waking up for swim practices and making it to class on time to how to french braid her hair. I’ve taken more of a backseat and been in awe at how much I have to learn from her. To list a couple of her superpowers, she’s a creative wizard with a knife in the kitchen and a caring animal whisperer.
Happy holidays from the tree outside the Dave & Busters Taco Tuesday that we found coming straight from the airport.
To Ben Schneider, Steven Foster, Allie Crawford, Ellen Donnelly, Dan McGlinn, Steph Vermet, and Emily Waguespack for providing me feedback on the contents of My Letter to Expectations
To the lovely catchup I had with Ellen Fishbein yesterday. We are creating a pilot program of learning poetry 101 in January 2023 together
To Matt Yao for publishing such an inspiring and well-researched piece on career breaks and sabbaticals called the Chronicles of Career Breakers
I appreciate you reading this!
If ideas resonated, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.
Never stop learning 😁
PS - If you missed last week’s 🥵 Letter 136: I am a Triathlete, you can check it out here.
PPS - I am 12 readers away from my goal of reaching 500 learn-it-alls and would be SO grateful to you for sharing this with someone in your life to sign up to join this journey as well.