Emily Mann blogged today about other people’s expectations, and how they affected her outlook on life.

Her post prompted the following comment from me:

I have felt the same way–that everyone expected great things from me, and that nothing I accomplished mattered because it wasn’t the Big Thing.

This unfortunately has caused me to hit several stumbling blocks. I basically have felt many times that I can’t get anywhere near meeting people’s expectations, so I’ve given up. This happened when I went for my mechanical engineering degree (I dropped out after one year), and it happened in many classes in which I should have made As. It hasn’t really happened at work–typically I exceed expectations there–but I feel too “big” for the job I have now, like I’m overqualified for the work I do and that I’m not getting the responsibilities that would help me grow. But I’m having trouble pursuing something different; only recently was I really able to try and sell myself to a prospective employer. In that case, I’d found a challenge that I was desperate to work to meet.

People still expect great things of me, whenever I meet them. I don’t know why. It makes me scared, like I’m going to let them all down. I feel like I haven’t done much with my life, and that right now I’m spinning my wheels. I don’t feel like I know how to achieve what everyone assumes I will achieve.

The fact that you were able to ride people’s expectations into true greatness is something to be applauded. It’s not easy to be a lawyer. I imagine I would have dropped out of pre-law.

Kind of depressing. But I really feel like I have never learned how to try.

When I was little, Mom used to take us to the Living Arts and Science Center in Lexington, Kentucky. One time, we were supposed to make an octopus. I chose to draw Olive Oyl (from Popeye) instead, because I didn’t feel like counting all the way to eight. Another time, when I was older, everyone was making paper airplanes. Instead of trying the new things we were learning about aerodynamics, I just made the same airplane I’d learned how to make years before. Could those have been caused by a subconscious fear of failure…or am I just inherently lazy?

I suppose it’s a good sign that I’m working to correct these flaws. But thinking about all the things I want to accomplish just makes me tired. I’ve been so tired lately.

It would be so easy to just give up.