Societal expectations of what life should look like is a stronghold many fail to break away from. I remember speaking with my father during a trying time in my life when he mentioned what I had failed to notice, which was my nearly flawless “societal highway drive.” He explained my life from his vantage point, which went something like this: “you were always a good kid, graduated high school and college with good grades, got a job and worked really hard at it, bought a home, got married, etc..” I was acing the “Highway of Life” at that point. Yet the more I accomplished and went down this path, the less I felt like myself, and the less joy I experienced.
I’m not married anymore, full disclosure. As Tony Robbins says- “pain sculpts the soul.” I went through a tough few years of divorce, which might surprise some readers given my spiritual writings. I’m sure I’ll get more into this period of my life in future writings, but the one thing I can say is that I’m substantially closer to God now and therefore have no space for regrets/shame resulting from this chapter of my life. I hold no malice or ill-will and can honestly report that I’m a better version of myself today than ever. My divorce struggles, along with others, helped me realize just how much of my life I had been missing out on. You see- this “Highway of Life” was always the plan, because that was the expectation of everyone around me, and quite frankly of myself given the conditioning experienced throughout my life.
I don’t know who woke up and decided their is a socially acceptable “normal” path of life, yet I just don’t believe this anymore. Perhaps this path was the result of my midwest/smallish-town upbringing, or simply my desire to fit in with the majority. The “white picket fence” life path simplified- graduate, get a job, have a family, raise good kids, become grandparents, retire, etc. I’m not saying that these things aren’t fantastic, but if we’re sacrificing our true self to appease the rest of the world with our choices and timing of such, we’re not fully living. Expectations of ourselves and from others (family especially) really take root as we get older and experience our “Highway of Life.” These expectations often lead to being let down, resentment, bitterness or even sadness from “failure” to become what we’re “supposed to be” each step of the way.
My dad referenced this “Highway of Life” and explained that sometimes one must simply take an unexpected turn. Sometimes we need to hit the brakes, slow down, pause and really start feeling again- for ourselves. My life took an unexpected turn, which resulted in a slowdown that permitted me to truly LEAN IN and experience Him, while actually enjoying spending time with myself. I got to know and truly understand myself over the past few years. I actually want to be myself now. I even actually like myself now because I stopped feeling the need to be what the world expected of me and simply am who God made me to be. I made decisions from broken places and for worldly reasons over the past few decades. Many lessons took over thirty years for me to learn and I’m just grateful I learned them at all, as I fear some never do. I want to be present instead of planning my future (which for me typically results in worry/desire to control outcomes). I want to surrender my path to Him and make an imprint on this world. I want to stop adhering to the worldly expectations of me and adhere to that which my spirit calls me to do next. I don’t desire to be on the “Highway of Life” anymore. I want to move at the pace and to the places He calls me to move. By doing so, I have faith my next steps will be in the right direction filled with purpose.
Do you ever feel the need to fill some expectation for someone else? Do you desire to follow a specific path because that’s just “the way life is?” We wonder why so many experience so much pain. I believe expectations from a worldly view is a huge reason why. May you tap into the spiritual path that leads to your divine calling, may we all.