Welcome back to this corner of the cyber sphere. You know what time it is? It’s evaluation time. The previous year ended and a new one begins and where I work, we sit with our manager and we have a little heart to heart about our performance etc. I’m sure this is being done on many a places, I’m just using this as a segue to my topic. Basically it’s all about expectations. Did I meet them? Exceeded them? Did I do an outstanding job this year? I won’t tell, it’s confidential 🙂 I will however muse about expectations.

I was inspired to think about this at this time because of the following quote from the great late Bruce Lee:

I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.


It’s a nice thought, isn’t it? Wouldn’t we all like to believe that it’s as simple as that?

Let me pose a few problems. I’m sure these won’t surprise you all too much:


Relationships – A couple of life partners. You and yours. Do you not have any expectations from each other? Do you not think that at least some of them should be met? Do you expect fidelity? Seems fair. Do you expect help with the house maintenance? How much? Do you expect sex? Is it negotiable?


Family – Does your mom expect a visit now and then? How often? Does pops expect his college money to be used a certain way? Are you expecting your children to say no to drugs?


Work – Does your employer expect you to meet some goals? Do you expect compensation for that long weekend? Do your clients expect a certain level of service?


Friends/acquaintances (Close circle) – Do you expect your friends to return your calls? Do you expect them to take part in the tip? Do you expect them to keep their mouth shut about that secret you told them at age 15? Do they expect you to cover for them if dad asks? Do they expect you to pick them up at 3 am at the airport?


Society / Country / World (Wide circle) – Rules and regulations (That damn home owner association), Laws, the “norms”. What are these if not expectations? Do you expect your government to use those hefty taxes money to make sure your living room doesn’t get flooded by your neighbor’s drain?

These sure look like a hell of a lot of expectations to not live up to, and we barely scratched the surface. Hell, This didn’t even tickle.

So what to do? If we want to be free from expectations of others, what can be done?

I’d like to touch on the above, in a reverse order if you will:

5. Society / Country / World (Wide circle) – Let’s consider the expectations that circle has from us – be a law-abiding citizen, have some decency and stay within reasonable limits. Now, if you live in a dictatorship this is indeed a predicament. But that’s a whole separate discussion. If you live in the “free” world there’s a lot to be said about laws. It really is quite simple to avoid breaking the law. Speaking from experience here 🙂 But what about that “decency” and “norms”? Who decides? There you have it, I say. I don’t consider myself normal in the sense that the majority of society perceives it. And what is “decent”? I obey the law right? So just by doing that, I know where the line is drawn. Within these, I can move as far from center/norm as I’d like to thank you very much. But still… these damn laws… I agree with a lot of them. I see no positive at all in murder, rape or theft. But what the heck is it about all these privacy invasions? I don’t like these… Problem. So what can we do? We can vote for a different government, we can protest, we can choose to play within the limits of the law, but in the end of the day, there are some pretty clear expectations we need to live up to. The thing is that in a very high level – shouldn’t we expect decency and good citizenship from ourselves? I’m not talking about total conformity or accepting everything without question. I’m talking about the basic values of a humane society – the “live and let live” rule.

4. Friends/acquaintances(Close circle) – We choose our friends. So we’re more free to decide which expectations we’re willing to “take” and which we’re not. Also, Friends are more accessible and we can directly address any issues we might have with expectations. It’s much easier – I think you’d agree – than trying to communicate with the IRS

3. Work – When it comes to work, I think the little signature on the contract (or the handshake) upon joining is our set expectations. Here, Do we really have a choice? Like I said about “The world” – Shouldn’t we make it our expectations from ourselves to do the best we can? And again, not slavery but setting the standards high.

2. Family – Now we’re getting touchy 🙂 I don’t want to repeat myself, but family is even more accessible than friends. Of course the situation is a lot more sensitive because these are the people we’re connected to by blood. Still, that connection should be what allows us all to get rid of expectations that put unnecessary strain on one another. We can do that because we sincerely care.

1. Relationships – Now we get to the core… our everyday life. We start out feeling great. We found the perfect match! but of course we haven’t. I’m sure my wife would like me to do a better job at keeping the house clean (I know because she told me…) So what do we do? We’re in this relationship with this person we love. How can we let him/her down? Well, the way I see it – a relationship is all about agreement and compromise. Otherwise it’s not a relationship. It’s a sentence… each one of us can set his expectations with our partner and those really are the rules under which we agree to live. Of course, as opposed to jail sentence, there’s an easier way out – again, for a different post – for the record, I don’t like the easy way out (I’m happily married for 19 years for a reason).

So it seems like the closer home it gets, the easier it is to live without having to live up to someone else’s expectations. Can this be used to enhance the circle? If we can talk with each other and understand each other’s need to be free, could this be applied at any level?

I wrote north of a 1000 words and I still don’t think I came close to cover all issues, let alone solve them, yet I think the quote stands. We’re not here to live up to each other’s expectations.

What other examples can you think of? What issues might you actually face with regards to expectations? How do you deal with it? By all means, let us have it down here.

2 thoughts on “Excuse me, Are you free?

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