Fear of Expectation

I always do this.  I procrastinate trying something new because I know it can’t be perfect the first time out, and I’m not good at accepting my own mistakes. I really admire the people who can just bravely face the world with ignorant confidence and go for it. If they don’t have figurative balls the size of car tires, they sure act like they do. {My apologies to my husband and the rest of the blogosphere for using “balls” in my work again. It must be a compulsion.}

I go back to the concept of expectation. It’s a big word for a reason.  If you want to truly identify what separates the rich from the poor, you need look no further than that four syllable “e” word. {The middle class is extinct. People only say they are middle class to make themselves feel better. The middle class died out with leaded gasoline and cigarette commercials.}

In a very generalized nutshell, rich people expect their kids to succeed. Poor people expect their kids to survive. When those expectations are not met, there are dire social consequences. Furthermore, when those expectations are exceeded, there are also dire social consequences.

I grew up poor. My parents are loving, decent people who have always worked hard and done what was necessary to survive. At a young age it was made very clear to me what their expectations were. Get through high school without going to jail or winding up pregnant. That was it. After eighteen, I was the state’s problem. And, believe it or not, where I came from, that was considered a high expectation. I’m pretty sure they had no freakin’ clue what to do with me, when at age twelve I informed them that I planned on going to college.

I only made it worse when I said I was going to art school. “Why don’t you be a nurse or a teacher? They make lots of money.” These were the only female role models in my small community that my parents could relate to. But at the time most of the teachers seemed mean, and since I normally cried at the sight of my own blood, a medical career didn’t sound like a good idea either. Plus, when I was about seven, it became evident that I could draw. Being the validation junkie that I am, I clung to that positive reinforcement with every fiber of my being.

What I failed to recognize though, was that the combination of  “creative and poor” culminated into “weird”. I was social suicide, no matter the economic class. I did manage to find a few other “weird” friends, and we forged alliances that persist to this day. But try as I might, “uppity trailer trash” still clings to my psyche like persistent skunk musk. It’s downright debilitating, especially if there’s a risk of failure and embarrassment.

There have been numerous times throughout my life when I wished to God that I could live within others expectations of me. Life would have been so much easier, but I would have been miserable. Often, I was miserable anyway, but at least I was honest. Living a false life to make others more comfortable would have been so much worse.

By the way, this entire neurotic gripe is brought to you because I’m about to launch a Facebook fan page. It’ll be a first for me, and I’ll probably make mistakes, so please, for the love of God, lower your expectations (eek!).


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