Ok, so I want to talk to about the expectations we place on ourselves. (I am going to focus on the expectations placed on women, because that’s what I know. I recognize that men have challenges with the expectations placed on them as well but do not feel equipped to speak directly on that topic.)
There are so many expectations that are thrown at us through the media, through family and friends, through complete strangers, etc. These expectations can be really harmful to our personal identity, because they are often nearly impossible to reach, unhealthy, and time-consuming. For example, girls are to be both super thin and also have curves. However, when you are super thin, it is harder to have curves, because curves consist of fat, so for most people, this doesn’t work out. There are some women who are thin and have great curves, but unless you have a body type that allows for that, it’s pretty much impossible to have both (without cosmetic surgeries, but I think that further proves my point). It is good to work out and exercise and limit unhealthier foods; however, there is a point where people can overexercise and under-eat and thus be so underweight and malnourished that is unhealthy for them. Expectations have the ability to destroy us if we let them.
During the majority of my freshman year of college, I wore a little bit of makeup. No big deal, right? My goal was to wear enough to cover up my acne but not enough for anyone to actually know that I was wearing any makeup. I am not skilled with doing makeup quickly, so I was wasting so much time trying to cover my acne in a way that no one could tell that I was actually covering anything. It also just wasn’t helpful for me. I was really self-conscious about a lot of things, especially acne, and wearing makeup was a way to try to hide of the flaws I saw in myself. When I realized this, I stopped wearing makeup regularly. I was really self-conscious about this at first, but it ended up being really healthy for me, because I was able to start spending that time doing morning devotions with God and I was less consumed with the flaws I saw on my face. (Now, I have no problem with girls who want to wear makeup every day. Makeup just wasn’t helpful for me personally because I was not managing time appropriately, and I felt a need to cover my imperfections so that I could better match up to societal expectations for beauty. If doing makeup is healthy for you, then totally go for it.)
While all of these things are major issues, one of the biggest problems that I have with societal expectations is the triviality of these expectations. In 20 years, no one is going to care that I had acne in college. It doesn’t matter. It just feels like it is such a waste of time. I could be using that time to focus on the expectations that really matter – the ones that God has for us. Those expectations will still matter 20 years from now. If I am so focused on the way that I look, I am going to miss so much that is happening around me. As a Christian, I am called to love and serve those who God has placed in my life, and I can’t do this if I am totally consumed with all of my flaws.
I just want to challenge you to question the expectations that you are holding for yourself. Are these expectations healthy?
Please comment your thoughts/experiences with this, and let me know if you disagree on anything or think I got anything wrong about these expectations!
To be continued…