Expectations: are they really so completely overwhelming or all in your head?

December 16, 2009 at 9:37 AM 2 comments

I expect it won’t take more than an hour.  I expected to have a job by the time I graduated.  How do you expect me to read your mind?

No matter where you are in life or where you want to go, at times we are all haunted and overwhelmed by expectations.  Whether they’re our own, those of our peers or those of our superiors, expectations have an uncanny way of being unrealized.

I grew up with certain expectations for myself, which included being gainfully employed upon graduating from college this May.  With the drastic change in the economy and high-speed evolution of communications, I have found many of my expectations have gone unfulfilled.  Some days it’s easy to feel like this mean I’ve failed.

After talking with just about any one who would listen, I’ve realized that I am definitely not alone and that I need to change my expectations in this economic climate.

This made me think: what other expectations do I have for myself (as a person, a professional, etc.) are completely off-base and unreachable? Am I setting myself up to fail?

Recently I had to fill out one of those personality indices which asks that you first select all of the adjectives that you feel you are expected to be and then to fill out all of the adjectives that you think you really are.

I realized that I believe that the world expects me to be, well, perfect.  I am expected to be patient in my job search but tenacious when applying for opportunities.  I am expected to be respectful of my superiors but confident enough to disagree.  I am expected to be completely dedicated to my job but well-balanced in life.

Am I alone?  Am I pulling these expectations out of thin air?  Is it even possible to meet all of these criteria?

When I ask people what they do expect of me, I feel as though I often get very vague answers, which only makes me feel more nervous that I am utterly failing to be what is expected of me.

As a young professional seeking first-time employment in an ever-changing industry, what is expected of me?  What do you feel is expected of you?

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Entry filed under: Growing up, Job search, Life as an intern. Tags: , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melissa Cafiero  |  December 16, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    Starting out, I found that no one expected me to be perfect (they still don’t). Whether that’s just the culture in my current job (and thus, good luck) or whether that’s the norm … I don’t know.

    For interns, I think we expect them to have a positive attitude and be happy to jump in wherever we need help. It was my mindset when I got started, and I know a lot of people appreciated my willingless to learn. Sure, I had a lot of questions, but people were grateful that I’d asked for clarification, and not guessed. They ended up with a near-final version of what they needed and I ended up with another point to add to my resume.

    Getting further into my career, I still think similarly – excited for a new challenge, happy to help on little things – but I’m able to put everything in perspective. Can I solve the world’s problems? No. Can I do an awesome job on this handful of projects? You bet. And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about me. Yes, I’d like my boss to respect me. Yes, I can do a better job next time. Yes, I’d like to be promoted. Some of these things I can control, and others I cannot. But I can control how I feel about them.

    At the end of the day, if I can go to bed knowing: A) I tried my best B) I did at least one good thing C) I learned something new D) I didn’t sacrifice family for work and E) I didn’t sacrifice myself for work (time, integrity, etc.) then I am happy. Your job won’t be there when you’re sick, sad or on your deathbed, but your family will. That’s what matters to me.

    Also, I ask myself – Will this matter in 6 months? Will it matter in 6 years? If the answers are no, I don’t sweat it.

    Sorry, this turned out to be much longer a comment than I intended, but I hope it helps!

    Reply
    • 2. Rebecca Denison  |  December 17, 2009 at 4:27 PM

      I honestly think that sometimes my wondering about this has everything to do with over-thinking interactions with bosses and coworkers. I know that I personally am prone to overthinking the little things: she gave me a funny look , does she think my work isn’t good enough?

      I like the way that you say you can control how you feel about them even if you can’t control the outcome. That’s something I do need to learn and internalize. I take things personally when I shouldn’t, and I need to learn to accept the things I cannot change.

      I’m glad you left such a great comment, it was definitely a needed perspective on my end. 🙂

      Reply

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