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Expectations of Society

The expectations of society can either be freeing or binding, and for most people the second is true. We are bombarded with expectations and judgement through social media, school, and conversations. What would you do differently if you wouldn’t be judged by others? Would you express your opinion more, part of your unique perspective on life? Would you dress differently or surround yourself with different people?

It is very easy to minimize the effect of expectations. People say comments such as “you do you” or “you are beautiful just as you are” but they often don’t mean it. They want you to do whatever you want within the expectations society has set, which can be very different. Instead of “you do you” they really mean “you do you as long as you fit within this list of expectations” and “you are beautiful just as you are” means “you are beautiful as long as you fit into the beauty standards.” Those comments downplay the significant impact expectations have on our daily life.

How did you choose what to wear today? Chances are your choice of clothing was at least slightly impacted by what society expects of you. It is unlikely to see a guy in a dress or a girl wearing something overly masculine, although it does happen. I find myself choosing what to wear almost entirely based on what I am expected to wear, and my comfort and personal style come second. The expectations of society are part of the reason that a large group of students all dress very similar, following the current trend. They bottle up their uniqueness in order to fit in, and loose parts of themselves in the process. No one way of dressing is better than the other, instead of emphasis on following the new trend it should be placed on discovering your own unique sense of style. Visual representations are easy to spot, but expectations affect so much more.

How do you feel when you see the number on the scale after stepping on? Chances are that feeling has been greatly influenced by society. As a kid, did you have any care what you weighed? Probably not, since the purity of childhood shields you from most expectations. As you got older, you saw pictures portraying the “perfect” body, compared your weight to those similar in height, and received comments from others about your weight or fitness. This is not just an issue with women, men are also expected to be a certain weight and in shape.

Some might say that expectations motivate us to take care of ourselves and look nice, but everyone has a different healthy. The models in magazines are a very select group of the population, and for most of us it isn’t healthy to be that skinny. In fact, plenty of models have eating disorders. Why is society’s beautiful something that you have to starve yourself to achieve? Unfair body expectations lead to low self esteem and eating disorders. I know how sick and messed up the beauty standard is, and I still struggle.

My friends and family tell me that I’m a perfectly healthy weight, and yet I still feel overweight. I know I will never be healthy and as skinny as the models in magazines, and I still had an entire summer where I didn’t eat breakfast in an attempt to lose weight. Last summer I barely ate, and aside from fruits and vegetables I would only eat five different carbs and one source of protein. It was an extremely restrictive diet, one that kept getting smaller. It took working with dietician and planning out balanced meals that I had to force myself to eat before I gained control of my eating. Would this, and much worse, be the story of so many if society didn’t have such an unrealistic beauty standard? Why do we accept these beauty expectations when they cause harm to so many people who are just trying to fit in? If you have to starve yourself to fit into the standard of beauty, something is wrong with the beauty standard, not you.

What motivates you? Is it the drive to succeed or the fear of what others will think if you fail? Is it the desire to find yourself or to fit in? People are constantly judged based on their accomplishments, which leads to comparisons and ranking of people. Everyone in school has a GPA, making it an easy way to form judgements. Someone with a 2.00 GPA is commonly considered lazy or unintelligent, while someone with a 4.00 is thought to be smart and hard working. GPA is only one measure of smartness, and many people are smart in different areas. As said by Albert Einstein, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This leads to different expectations of people based on whether they have a good GPA or not, regardless of actual intelligence. Why would someone put in the effort if all that is expected of them is to show up to class? Why are we judged in one area when people have many different strengths in so many areas? Why are we all expected to be perfect? Why do we assign adjectives to people only based on their test scores?

This ranking of people based on GPA can cause people to base their entire self worth based on a single number, when they are so much more. All too often I find myself falling into the trap of determining my value based on my GPA and recent test scores. I push myself to the extreme to do well in school, partly because that is what society expects of me. I am seen as smart and if I don’t get a “good enough” grade then I get judged and people make comments about my “bad” grade. You can’t expect someone to be perfect, you will just be disappointed because we are human. Everyone makes mistakes, and with today’s expectations one mistake and you are “not good enough” and looked down upon. I try so hard to meet the expectations, to be perfect on every test and quiz, to the point where I loose some of myself and what makes me unique. I’m not perfect, I’m going to miss points on tests and quizzes and not have a perfect GPA, and it’s outrageous to expect otherwise.

I’m sick and fed up with the unrealistic expectations society has. I am an unique individual, and I will not fit into society’s cookie cutter mold, and nor will anyone else. There is a reason we all look different, and it makes the world so much more beautiful. It will be hard, but live your life just how you want to, and anyone who wants you to do otherwise can go somewhere else and leave you alone.

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